PMQs: change the whole system

We open with tributes to the Speaker from Brown and Cameron, and a planted question on the government’s forthcoming Gurkhas statement. The House listens in faintly disgusted silence to Gordon Brown making a virtue of the fact that he had to be made to do something.

We follow with tussling between Brown and Cameron over whether or not a General Election would cause chaos. Cameron trying to persuade us that an election would mean “addressing the issues” and “a fresh start” – see Costigan Quist’s post on this subject this morning, if you haven’t already. Brown’s answers are useless. The real answer is that a GE would give the impression of change without any fundamental changes to the system. Which of course is exactly how the Tories want it.

Clegg on now – getting heckled for calling for Martin’s resignation. Carries grimly on. Says we have a once in a generation opportunity to change politics for the better. “Expenses are just the tip of the iceberg. Does the PM now see that from party funding through to Whitehall secrecy the whole way we do politics must now be transformed?”

Miaow! Martin calls someone else for Clegg’s second question. Laughter all round. Martin: “I thought there were two questions in the first question”. Touche, Mr Speaker, says Clegg.

His actual second question is, what’s the point of having a General Election which just brings in new  faces to the same old system?

“…his Government is in power even though less than a quarter of people voted for them. Of course we need an election, but people don’t want an election when all you get is a few new faces and the same old rotten rules. Isn’t it true that a system where so few votes give a Government so much power will always breed arrogance and secrecy?”

Huge hear-hear from across the house seems to greet this.

Brown non-answers this as he did the first (it’s always incredibly hard to summarise what Brown says, but broadly he seems to think change is a good idea. A great comfort to us all.)

Apart from Michael Martin’s strange psycho-games, this session is chiefly remarkable for a huge number of planted questions from old skool Labourites, hitting on all the traditional Labour buttons – unions, taxing the rich etc. It’s as if the bunker has relocated to the Chamber. Strange sight.

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This entry was posted in PMQs.


  • If the Speaker forgot that Clegg got two questions, it’s incompetence (he has been doing this for 9 years, after all.) If it was a deliberate snub, then it was sheer petulance. Either way, it demonstrates why he had to go.

  • I’ve always said that the best thing the Lib Dems in general and their leaders in particular could do at PMQs would be to simply refuse to attend them. It’s an embarrassing anachronism and by willingly taking part you achieve nothing except being seen to condone, validate and perpetuate it.

  • Chris Baldwin 21st May '09 - 8:12pm

    Time for a republic ladies and gentlemen.

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