Bercow urges reform of 'childish' PMQs

Speaker John Bercow has long called for reform of prime minister's questions for the sake of improving parliament's public image and has been strident in chastising offending MPs

Speaker John Bercow has long called for reform of prime minister's questions for the sake of improving parliament's public image and has been strident in chastising offending MPs

First published in News

COMMONS Speaker John Bercow has made a fresh appeal to party leaders to find ways to curb the "yobbery and public school twittishness" of their MPs at prime minister's question time.

Mr Bercow has written to David Cameron, Ed Miliband and Nick Clegg seeking their responses to evidence that the tone and content is putting voters off politics, the Independent reported.

Research by the Hansard Society found the most common descriptions of the weekly 30-minute Commons session were "noisy", "childish", "over the top" and pointless.

The Speaker has long called for reform of the set-piece session for the sake of improving parliament's public image and has been strident in chastising offending MPs.

Focus groups were asked about PMQs as part of the Hansard Society's annual examination of public engagement and more than two thirds said there was " too much party political point-scoring instead of answering the question".

Almost half (47%) said it was "too noisy and aggressive", still more (48%) disagreed that MPs behaved professionally and by a majority of 33% to 27% the panel reported that it put them off politics.

Only 12% said it made them " proud of our Parliament".

"There are people who think culturally the atmosphere is very male, very testosterone-fuelled and, in the worst cases, of yobbery and public school twittishness," Mr Bercow told the newspaper.

"I don't think we should be prissy about this, but I am not sure we're setting a good example to the next generation of voters," he said, adding that he wanted to hear the views of party leaders before considering a Speaker's Commission.

Dr Ruth Fox, director and head of research at the Hansard Society, said: " The public think the conduct of MPs is childish and wouldn't be tolerated in other work places.

"They think politicians are simply not taking the issues that affect their lives seriously enough.

"Reform is overdue if PMQs is to move from being an inward-looking and self-referential event towards its proper role of scrutiny and accountability."

Comments (6)

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7:19pm Tue 18 Feb 14

varteg1 says...

Confrontational seating arrangements, perpetuate the unruly nonsense in parliament.

The Speaker must enforce his authority by use of the suspension caveat he has,. It is little wonder that since the \House has been televised, all interest and respect from the public has dropped to almost zero levels of tolerance..and I suggest that unless and until Bercow and his successors re establish a far greater degree of discipline to the extent Members behave in a rational and polite manner, what little respect remains will deteriorate to zero.

Maybe it's time we removed those intrusive cameras, for as I see it, the Members are only too well aware of their presence, and project to them as can only be expected from a bunch of popinjays with a inferiority complex.
Confrontational seating arrangements, perpetuate the unruly nonsense in parliament. The Speaker must enforce his authority by use of the suspension caveat he has,. It is little wonder that since the \House has been televised, all interest and respect from the public has dropped to almost zero levels of tolerance..and I suggest that unless and until Bercow and his successors re establish a far greater degree of discipline to the extent Members behave in a rational and polite manner, what little respect remains will deteriorate to zero. Maybe it's time we removed those intrusive cameras, for as I see it, the Members are only too well aware of their presence, and project to them as can only be expected from a bunch of popinjays with a inferiority complex. varteg1
  • Score: 1

10:51pm Tue 18 Feb 14

Sid Bonkers says...

Children's playground. They do seem oblivious to what the public want. I'm thinking it's probably better to see them than let them operate behind closed doors though.
Children's playground. They do seem oblivious to what the public want. I'm thinking it's probably better to see them than let them operate behind closed doors though. Sid Bonkers
  • Score: 0

11:18am Wed 19 Feb 14

varteg1 says...

Sid Bonkers wrote:
Children's playground. They do seem oblivious to what the public want. I'm thinking it's probably better to see them than let them operate behind closed doors though.
No on e can spend all the time watching a bunch of idiotic kids performing like rabid monkeys, the novelty soon wears off, and I argue the TV novelty has palled to utter boredom. Time to call a halt and take the 'playground' exhibition off our screens, maybe when they no longer have an audience to pay up to they will act more rationally and sedately. I doubt it, but I am fed up with having their stupidity televised.

The experiment has shown them for what they are, a bunch of overpaid and under-worked losers who would fail in the real world of work. As an ex employer, I certainly would not be likely to take anyone of them on board The experiment has shown them in their true colours, which is about the only benefit we the electorate have gained from it.
[quote][p][bold]Sid Bonkers[/bold] wrote: Children's playground. They do seem oblivious to what the public want. I'm thinking it's probably better to see them than let them operate behind closed doors though.[/p][/quote]No on e can spend all the time watching a bunch of idiotic kids performing like rabid monkeys, the novelty soon wears off, and I argue the TV novelty has palled to utter boredom. Time to call a halt and take the 'playground' exhibition off our screens, maybe when they no longer have an audience to pay up to they will act more rationally and sedately. I doubt it, but I am fed up with having their stupidity televised. The experiment has shown them for what they are, a bunch of overpaid and under-worked losers who would fail in the real world of work. As an ex employer, I certainly would not be likely to take anyone of them on board The experiment has shown them in their true colours, which is about the only benefit we the electorate have gained from it. varteg1
  • Score: 0

12:27pm Wed 19 Feb 14

whatintheworld says...

varteg1 wrote:
Confrontational seating arrangements, perpetuate the unruly nonsense in parliament. The Speaker must enforce his authority by use of the suspension caveat he has,. It is little wonder that since the \House has been televised, all interest and respect from the public has dropped to almost zero levels of tolerance..and I suggest that unless and until Bercow and his successors re establish a far greater degree of discipline to the extent Members behave in a rational and polite manner, what little respect remains will deteriorate to zero. Maybe it's time we removed those intrusive cameras, for as I see it, the Members are only too well aware of their presence, and project to them as can only be expected from a bunch of popinjays with a inferiority complex.
So much this.

I love Bercow, I think he's great. But he spends far too much time delivering witty one liners to MPs when he should be expelling them from the chamber.
[quote][p][bold]varteg1[/bold] wrote: Confrontational seating arrangements, perpetuate the unruly nonsense in parliament. The Speaker must enforce his authority by use of the suspension caveat he has,. It is little wonder that since the \House has been televised, all interest and respect from the public has dropped to almost zero levels of tolerance..and I suggest that unless and until Bercow and his successors re establish a far greater degree of discipline to the extent Members behave in a rational and polite manner, what little respect remains will deteriorate to zero. Maybe it's time we removed those intrusive cameras, for as I see it, the Members are only too well aware of their presence, and project to them as can only be expected from a bunch of popinjays with a inferiority complex.[/p][/quote]So much this. I love Bercow, I think he's great. But he spends far too much time delivering witty one liners to MPs when he should be expelling them from the chamber. whatintheworld
  • Score: 1

12:43pm Wed 19 Feb 14

Sid Bonkers says...

varteg1 wrote:
Sid Bonkers wrote:
Children's playground. They do seem oblivious to what the public want. I'm thinking it's probably better to see them than let them operate behind closed doors though.
No on e can spend all the time watching a bunch of idiotic kids performing like rabid monkeys, the novelty soon wears off, and I argue the TV novelty has palled to utter boredom. Time to call a halt and take the 'playground' exhibition off our screens, maybe when they no longer have an audience to pay up to they will act more rationally and sedately. I doubt it, but I am fed up with having their stupidity televised.

The experiment has shown them for what they are, a bunch of overpaid and under-worked losers who would fail in the real world of work. As an ex employer, I certainly would not be likely to take anyone of them on board The experiment has shown them in their true colours, which is about the only benefit we the electorate have gained from it.
You're right about their antics but personally I think public scrutiny is the best option and there's the off switch on the tv.
[quote][p][bold]varteg1[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]Sid Bonkers[/bold] wrote: Children's playground. They do seem oblivious to what the public want. I'm thinking it's probably better to see them than let them operate behind closed doors though.[/p][/quote]No on e can spend all the time watching a bunch of idiotic kids performing like rabid monkeys, the novelty soon wears off, and I argue the TV novelty has palled to utter boredom. Time to call a halt and take the 'playground' exhibition off our screens, maybe when they no longer have an audience to pay up to they will act more rationally and sedately. I doubt it, but I am fed up with having their stupidity televised. The experiment has shown them for what they are, a bunch of overpaid and under-worked losers who would fail in the real world of work. As an ex employer, I certainly would not be likely to take anyone of them on board The experiment has shown them in their true colours, which is about the only benefit we the electorate have gained from it.[/p][/quote]You're right about their antics but personally I think public scrutiny is the best option and there's the off switch on the tv. Sid Bonkers
  • Score: 0

6:14pm Wed 19 Feb 14

varteg1 says...

Sid Bonkers wrote:
varteg1 wrote:
Sid Bonkers wrote:
Children's playground. They do seem oblivious to what the public want. I'm thinking it's probably better to see them than let them operate behind closed doors though.
No on e can spend all the time watching a bunch of idiotic kids performing like rabid monkeys, the novelty soon wears off, and I argue the TV novelty has palled to utter boredom. Time to call a halt and take the 'playground' exhibition off our screens, maybe when they no longer have an audience to pay up to they will act more rationally and sedately. I doubt it, but I am fed up with having their stupidity televised.

The experiment has shown them for what they are, a bunch of overpaid and under-worked losers who would fail in the real world of work. As an ex employer, I certainly would not be likely to take anyone of them on board The experiment has shown them in their true colours, which is about the only benefit we the electorate have gained from it.
You're right about their antics but personally I think public scrutiny is the best option and there's the off switch on the tv.
They have done much damage to the political arena with their antics so far, I am all for scrutiny, but what is in effect trail by TV is not the way to do it. I prefer to leave it to investigative journalists, who have been instrumental in exposing the corruption, something that in Chamber TV surveillance failed to do. All that the camera has done is help them turn into posturing fools, so bad they have turned a great number away from any sort of political involvement, much to the chagrin of those amongst us who have always hoped for sensible and responsible behaviour from those elected to act on our behalf.

Let the new TV stars be those caught on the thousands of cameras now decorating every corner of our lives, we are entitled to be idiots, we only have ourselves to look out for, but people dealing in billions of OUR money, and with governments across the globe should not be appearing stupidly foolish, there is no excuse nor justification. Certainly none just because they are constantly being observed by the all seeing camera.
[quote][p][bold]Sid Bonkers[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]varteg1[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]Sid Bonkers[/bold] wrote: Children's playground. They do seem oblivious to what the public want. I'm thinking it's probably better to see them than let them operate behind closed doors though.[/p][/quote]No on e can spend all the time watching a bunch of idiotic kids performing like rabid monkeys, the novelty soon wears off, and I argue the TV novelty has palled to utter boredom. Time to call a halt and take the 'playground' exhibition off our screens, maybe when they no longer have an audience to pay up to they will act more rationally and sedately. I doubt it, but I am fed up with having their stupidity televised. The experiment has shown them for what they are, a bunch of overpaid and under-worked losers who would fail in the real world of work. As an ex employer, I certainly would not be likely to take anyone of them on board The experiment has shown them in their true colours, which is about the only benefit we the electorate have gained from it.[/p][/quote]You're right about their antics but personally I think public scrutiny is the best option and there's the off switch on the tv.[/p][/quote]They have done much damage to the political arena with their antics so far, I am all for scrutiny, but what is in effect trail by TV is not the way to do it. I prefer to leave it to investigative journalists, who have been instrumental in exposing the corruption, something that in Chamber TV surveillance failed to do. All that the camera has done is help them turn into posturing fools, so bad they have turned a great number away from any sort of political involvement, much to the chagrin of those amongst us who have always hoped for sensible and responsible behaviour from those elected to act on our behalf. Let the new TV stars be those caught on the thousands of cameras now decorating every corner of our lives, we are entitled to be idiots, we only have ourselves to look out for, but people dealing in billions of OUR money, and with governments across the globe should not be appearing stupidly foolish, there is no excuse nor justification. Certainly none just because they are constantly being observed by the all seeing camera. varteg1
  • Score: 0

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