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Think PMQs is outdated, unprofessional and needs to change? Mumsnet petition this way.

(154 Posts)
JustineMumsnet (MNHQ) Wed 25-Jun-14 13:43:10

Hi all

Following on from our survey into the UK's political culture and the subsequent webchat with the women MPs from the three main parties, one issue that came up repeatedly was Prime Minister's Questions. While 61% of you felt that they offered an opportunity for MPs to hold the government to account, only 13% of you thought they weekly sessions were actually effective. 76% of you thought they were unprofessional and outdated, and half of you (50%) believed they actually damaged Parliament's reputation. As CalamitouslyWrong put it: "[we] might as well get some preschoolers to call each other poo-heads and be done with it."

David Cameron said he was "fed up with the Punch and Judy politics of Westminster" wanting to change "the name calling, backbiting, point scoring, finger pointing" and Prime Ministers can change PMQs unilaterally - Tony Blair went from 2 sessions a week, to one longer session in 1997. So we think he should fulfil his promise and look at the the process of PMQs now.

So we’ve launched a petition asking David Cameron to give this huge Parliamentary showcase a refresh.

The Hansard Society has proposed a a few changes to the format, including rapid-fire Q&As, more open questions, taking questions directly from voters via social media, and penalties for MPs who behave badly. And we're asking for David Cameron to pilot these changes and so improve the way parliament works.

Hope you can sign up and, as always, if you want to make some noise about this on social media, that would be fantastic.


Angeleno Wed 25-Jun-14 15:08:28

Brilliant petition, have just got an email about this from Signed!

Simonpartly Wed 25-Jun-14 16:00:10

May I suggest that the new book by psychotherapist Nick Duffell Wounded Leaders: British Elitism and the Entitlement Illusion gives a very good insight into psychodynamics of the "abandoned boys in the men" who purport to lead us.

Nick links this primarily to upper class child rearing customs and boarding school where young boys are forced to grow up too soon and so, paradoxically, never really grow up despite the "entitled" veneer. Needless to say, they can't cope with real women.

This book might well be worth further discussion.

BackforGood Wed 25-Jun-14 16:53:23

Totally agree with you - it's something that I've often commented on. Frankly, we should be very embarrassed about this pantomime. It's got nothing to do with adult debate about any subject.

LocalEditorEssex Wed 25-Jun-14 17:03:32

Would be nice to not see whatever party is speaking not all grinning/laughing like bullies when the speaker makes a point belittling the other side.

r2d2ismyidealman Wed 25-Jun-14 17:05:15

Oh fantastic, it is so childish and I turn it off each time.

sarine1 Wed 25-Jun-14 17:44:13

About time! Well done Justine. It's such an embarrassment listening to it - you just despair of the quality of leaders that we have.

Minnieisthedevilmouse Wed 25-Jun-14 17:46:45

Never learnt anything interesting while watching it. Makes me pity them. It isn't a debate. Just a shouting match. And not even a good one!

LongWayRound Wed 25-Jun-14 18:17:29

Looking at the survey results it's very depressing to see that the characteristics which are rated lowest as being advantageous in politicals are "In-depth understanding of the lives of 'ordinary' people" and "Integrity". They should be the most important characteristics of anyone standing for election... no wonder politics and politicians are so discredited.

LongWayRound Wed 25-Jun-14 18:18:18

in political life, not in politicals - thought I'd checked the preview sad

wigglylines Wed 25-Jun-14 18:18:40

Great idea for a campaign, and I totally agree PMQs needs to change. But if, as the survey write-up says, our problem is that politicians seem to be overly "Ambitious, connected, ruthless, rich and male" do you not think there might be a slight problem in asking someone who is exactly ambitious, connected, ruthless, rich and male to do something about it? (Not to mention the background in PR).

I would love to hope that this campaign ends in a more useful PMQs that is an effective channel to hold politicians to account. But AIBU in suspecting if Cameron does do anything because of this, it'll be no more than a PR exercise to help his electioneering, instead of being likely to end up with a new PMQs with real teeth, with PMs genuinely being held to account by MPs and even the population?

Or am I just becoming cynical and jaded?!

MisForMumNotMaid Wed 25-Jun-14 18:31:43

I agree.

PLEASE spell out the full message not just use acronyms (pet hate). The corner of my IPAD lit with PMQ's and it took a few moments for my brain to disengage from singing thomas and friends DD, packing a survival kit for school for DS1 and rehearsing for English presentation exam with DS2.

Prime Ministers Questions (PMQs)

Scousadelic Wed 25-Jun-14 18:51:28

I may be out of step here but I really do not care. Yes it is unpleasant and an embarrassment but the fact that we have a parliament full of over-privileged braying Hooray Henrys annoys me far more than this one weekly session when they let rip

AnneEyhtMeyer Wed 25-Jun-14 19:14:52

This was that totally unbiased survey where the options were something like

How terrible is PMQs?

A) Awful
B) Dreadful
C) Nightmarish
D) All of the above

This is just embarrassing.

KatieMumsnet (MNHQ) Wed 25-Jun-14 19:28:57

Hi AnneEyhtMeyer

You can see the full survey here. As you can see we gave four positive options and three negative options, and Justine highlighted the positive results in her OP.

It's always tricky with surveys to get the balance right, but we do try our best.

Realise the petition won't be for everyone, but PMQs is quite a symbolic thing that lots of people don't like it or find an embarrassment, so we thought we'd just raise the idea of trying a few small things to see if they improve it.

FindoGask Wed 25-Jun-14 19:48:36

"PLEASE spell out the full message not just use acronyms (pet hate). The corner of my IPAD lit with PMQ's and it took a few moments for my brain to disengage from singing thomas and friends DD, packing a survival kit for school for DS1 and rehearsing for English presentation exam with DS2."

Hahaha! I take it that was intentionally funny, right?

MisForMumNotMaid Wed 25-Jun-14 19:56:15

It wasn't ment to be funny, but glad if it amuses you.

Is it ment to be PMQs then, I've always heard it as prime ministers questions not seen it as an acronym. Maybe i'm the only thico who didn't read it as ment straight away.

I find acronym use in a document thats ment to be petitioning to make something more relevant to people is not very accessible. I assumed that its spelt out unless I'm missing something else too.

I thought it was a fairly well known acronym, but maybe not, it's good practice to write it out in full in the first instance anyway.

I often leave work when it's on Radio 5Live and have to change channel within 5 minutes, it's toe-curlingly awful. However it's a good idea in theory.

scottishmummy Wed 25-Jun-14 21:32:33

I dont have strong view on it,its rambunctious and rowdy.but then so is HoP

PacificDogwood Wed 25-Jun-14 22:08:50

Petition signed.
I think it's an appalling 'show' rather than political debate.
Embarrassing to all involved tbh.

Re acronym: I'm another one who had no clue what PMQ stood for until I clicked on the link to here… blush

Viviennemary Wed 25-Jun-14 22:28:24

But it's a tradition. And quite amusing. Though I can quite see why people want it changed. But it does give a chance to see our so called leaders at their worst. So maybe that's a good thing.

Paleodad Wed 25-Jun-14 22:39:08

i must be in the lonely 13% club; i love pmq's as it is, and wish they would restore the two sessions per week!

Monty27 Wed 25-Jun-14 23:11:44

I love see them 'bashing' each other. Silly fools lol! grin

Paleodad Wed 25-Jun-14 23:22:11

i really do think that whilst it often seems to be a pantomime it's far more nuanced than that. It's one of the rare times we see real emotion from politicians, and as tempers fray, even (dare i say it) a little more honesty, as opposed to the polished 'politico' double-speak we see in interviews and speeches.

EverythingCounts Wed 25-Jun-14 23:24:13

I was emailed about this by, before I saw it here, and have decided not to sign. I can't find a link to the report so am only going on the summary here and on the Hansard site about what the proposed reforms are. On that basis, I'm not very impressed. 'Rapid-fire questions' - no thanks; I'd actually like more in-depth discussion rather than the reverse. 'Members of the public asking questions via social media' I'm afraid reminds me of this Mitchell and Webb sketch - I don't think it will make for an informed and rigorous discussion; it will just push the buttons of being seen to let the public have a day. I would really like to see some more robust campaigning about political issues, and if we want to look at MPs' behaviour there are plenty of issues to pick on. But I really don't think this is a cause to put energy into at the moment.

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