The British people don’t like yah-boo politics apparently. Well, that is if you believe one of the most oft-repeated cliches in UK politics. Supposedly it puts people off the whole political process. Well, far be it from me to disagree but I think the British public have got more to worry about with regards to our democratic health than whether people barrack the Prime Minister at PMQs.
Which brings us to today’s PMQs, the first for Speaker Bercow. It was a rather unexciting affair – partly as every time things got interesting the Speaker insisted on standing up and stopping the fun. On one occasion he interrupted some (not very loud) heckling with the obviously pre-prepared: "The public don’t like it, and I don’t like it." The problem is, I’m a member of the public and I do like it. I don’t have a problem with 30 minutes of Parliamentary slapstick per week. If you want reasoned debate tune in to the other six hours or more of coverage each day on BBC Parliament.
Last week we hosted someone from the US who is on one of our clients’ global leadership programmes. Before taking him to Parliament he sat with everyone at Mandate HQ as we took our weekly PMQs fix. Over lunch he told us how brilliant he thought it was that our Prime Minister had to face such a public grilling each week and how it would never happen in America as they were too deferential to political leaders. And the chap was quite right. I don’t want to live in a political culture that is over-deferential to leaders – and PMQs is the one chance Parliament has to give the Prime Minister a weekly fright. So be careful what you wish for, Speaker Bercow – spare us from a po-faced, and dull, Parliament.