Prime Minister’s Questions

I would be interested to receive comments on Mr Corbyn’s “new style” of handling PMQs.


  1. Mercia
    September 16, 2015

    It would be a shame if quick witted put downs were completely removed from PMQs. There is nothing wrong with quick witted put downs, even Jesus used them against His opponents. Having said that I did like the way Corbyn read out peoples concerns and named them although it will not work all of the time.

    1. matthu
      September 16, 2015

      I fear it will develop into the sort of anecdote one typically hears round about election time where one emotive case is embroided and leveraged in an attempt to change public opinion about government policy. Remember Jennifer’s ear?

    2. Lifelogic
      September 17, 2015

      I see (on WIKI) that Corbyn (son of a maths teacher and engineer) achieved to E grades at A level (after Prep and Grammar schools) then he dropped out of the North London Poly after a year. Perhaps he really is daft enough to think that his potty economic ideas would actually work?

      Quick witted put downs seem rather unlikely from his side and might look rather cruel from the other side.

      His approach will be the usual lefty one. The evil and immoral politics of envy. Vote for us and we will steal money off others and give it to the feckless. True this will damage the economy hugely and make the poor even poorer, but who cares. We will get into power and drive round in Zil lanes and get lots of other fringe benefits to squander.

      1. JoeSoap
        September 17, 2015

        Totally true but at least his views are genuine rather than the contrived popular mish-mash of Mili-Camer-Blair-Mandelson types.

        Like Corbyn itself this petition has it half-right and half totally wrong, why call Cameron right wing, they are both somewhere left of centre….?

        1. Lifelogic
          September 18, 2015

          What? They are really asking the BBC to refer to David Cameron as the ‘right-wing Prime Minister’

          Right wing? Cameron is way to the left of centre with his tax borrow & piss down the drain, greencrap subsidising, landlord mugging, EU loving and state wage controls.

      2. Lifelogic
        September 18, 2015

        It will be anti-landlords & property owners, bankers, businesses & employers rather than anti celebs, footballers or pop stars.

        1. Iain Gill
          September 18, 2015

          Sadly the private rented sector is completely out of control, and many tenants are being abused. You don’t need to be a left winger to spot this obvious truth.

    3. Richard1
      September 17, 2015

      It is de rigeur for politicians to say they dont like the tone of PMQs, and the speaker keeps asserting that the public don’t like it. The evidence suggests the precise opposite – PMQs is the only televised parliamentary session which holds any public interest, and – JR can confirm – most MPs get a large multiple of requests to visit PMQs over any other session.

  2. Mercia
    September 16, 2015

    Mr Cameron will be less ruffled by Corbyns style than ny Ed Millibands on most domestic issues and will handle them easily. However, foreign policy matters will be interesting, Syria especially when we get to that.

  3. petermartin2001
    September 16, 2015

    Do you mean the ‘new style’ of relaying questions from the general public? I can’t see much wrong with that.

    Or do you mean the ‘new style’ of behaving in a civilised way to one’s political opponents? I can see a lot right with that. Outside of Westminster, in the real world, we are all used to having differences of political opinion with our work colleagues, our family members, and even our friends. Yet we don’t yell and bray at each other and treat each other with contempt.

    I’ve often wondered how MPs from different parties get on in private? Do you go out for drinks together, share cabs etc? Are there even romantic attachments across party lines? Out in the real world those are quite common!

    1. matthu
      September 17, 2015

      Are there even romantic attachments across party lines?

      Look no further than The Speaker!

    2. miami.mode
      September 17, 2015

      Peter, your question about MPs in private is a moot point. Some have previously admitted that they are very friendly with opposition MPs and I think “peeing in the same pot” is probably appropriate although doubtless there are many who simply detest the other lot either individually or collectively.

      It always amuses me to see that if the PM’s deputy has to take PMQs then the opposition also put up a deputy. Can you imagine Man Utd dropping Wayne Rooney if Ronaldo of Real Madrid was injured?

  4. Bill
    September 16, 2015

    I watched it and thought the exchange was relatively civilised – though the Scottish Nationalist seemed to be talking about promises that I did not know have been given…and perhaps they are a figment of SNP imagination.

    Corbyn was ok but it is going to look silly if he asks 6 questions out of 40,000 each week. They are really his questions because he chose them.

    The basic trouble is there is no clarity about what it is the government should do for us. If the government retorts to someone short of money ‘you should spend less money on beer and cigarettes and save up to pay your gas bill’ that will look patronising and harsh though for many who vote Conservative, it seems common sense.

    The question about ‘affordable’ housing helps illustrate the point. What is ‘affordable’? What does the word mean? In short, and maybe, a few weeks of PMQs like today’s will be helpful. After that, it will pall.

    1. Bob
      September 17, 2015


      “What is ‘affordable’? What does the word mean?”

      It’s Newspeak for “cheap”.

      1. Bill
        September 17, 2015


      2. petermartin2001
        September 17, 2015

        I wouldn’t say affordable means cheap. When I bought my first house (late 70s) more than half my salary was taken up by mortgage repayments so that wasn’t cheap! Not to me at least.

        But, it was affordable in the sense that the building society lent me the money in the first place. Could I buy that same house now as a young person in my first real career job? I don’t think so, even though interest rates are now much lower.

        1. Bob
          September 17, 2015


          “When I bought my first house (late 70s) more than half my salary was taken up by mortgage repayments so that wasn’t cheap!”

          In the 1970’s you would have borrowed 3.5 to 5 times your salary to buy a house. Today, 4 times the average salary would be about £120k.

          Show me a house for £120k in London and I’ll show you a cheap house.

          Mass immigration under the LibLabCon has created downward pressure on wages and upward pressure on the cost of homes.

          1. petermartin2001
            September 20, 2015

            It wasn’t in London and the mortgage was 3 x salary. But shortly after buying it Mrs T applied her monetary “remedies” to the economy and, after budgeting for 8%, I ended up with 15% interest rates!

            I couldn’t afford to run my car and I had to cycle 10 miles each way to work. Rain or shine!

            I’ve never really forgiven her for that! 🙂

          2. Bob
            September 20, 2015


            ” I had to cycle 10 miles each way to work”

            Apart from the obvious the environmental benefits it keeps you fit.

      3. Lifelogic
        September 19, 2015

        Indeed and if you give something away for less than its market price you tend to get a very big queue. Everyone wants a huge house in a nice area for virtually no rent.

        But houses cost lots of money to build and maintain and some one has to pay. Why should others subsidise them through taxes?

        The solution is to relax planing and the OTT green crap building controls.

    2. Paul
      September 17, 2015

      They are a figment of the SNP’s imagination ; which is why DC asked him specifically which bit of “The Vow” hadn’t been met.

      But the question wasn’t for DC or the rest of the HoC, it was pandering to the SNP voters who will believe just about anything if the glorious leader announces it.

      1. Bill
        September 17, 2015

        Agree. I note that the price of oil has collapsed since the Scottish referendum and that therefore all the calculations the SNP made about the profitability of the economy it hoped to control have gone out of the window. Oddly enough, Sturgeon and Salmon have not mentioned this. BUT if they had gained an independent Scotland, how the people there would have felt the pinch!

    3. Lucy Locket
      September 17, 2015

      You made my point for me. They are really Corbyn’s questions because he chooses them. He claims to be asking the questions that matter to the public but these are not randomly chosen – in fact he chose 6 out of 40,000 – which allowed him to ask the questions which he wanted to ask anyway.

      Yes, more civilised but much more boring! I hope it livens up next week.

  5. Richard1
    September 16, 2015

    Tedious. He’s the leader of the opposition not a radio show host. We don’t know whether ‘Gail from Nuneaton’ or whoever it is exists or not – and if she does she is presumably a Labour activist. Nor was the style very different. All the questions were designed to make left wing points. We didn’t get a question asking the PM to reaffirm his commitment to sound finance, or to competitive taxes. Mr Corbyn will have to do better than hide behind this pose as the people’s spokesman – the public need to know whether he supports or opposes govt policy. If he opposes it what would he do instead? The best question by far came from the DUP leader who pointed out the shameful support of the shadow. Chancellor, Mr Macdonnell, for IRA terrorism. I would like to know how decent and moderate Labour MPs such as Hilary Benn can sit round a table with such a person and call him a colleague.

  6. Horatio McSherry
    September 16, 2015


    The first bit of monologue by Corbyn was so painful to watch I pressed “mute” and retreated behind the sofa.

    Saying that, I think his questions were better (and infinitely more sincere) than any question Miliband ever asked. I think he needs to leave himself room for manouver with regards to come-backs, as Cameron is a polished performer. I have to say I quite enjoyed it – possibly as Corbyn was better than expected.

    We also have to remember we’ve all probably been left concussed by years of Brown and Miliband tedium, so anything’s better. 🙂

  7. Kevin Marshall
    September 16, 2015

    The purpose of the Opposition at Question Time is to hold the Government to account. That requires pointed questions. Mr Corbyn wants to ask value-laden questions that require long answers. The prime minister will give the long answers which will consist of

    “things are generally OK and improving, though work needs to be done.”

    The underlying theme will always be that the real risks are in a change of Government. With Mr Corbyn and Mr McDonnell having somewhat unconventional policy preferences there will be plenty of opportunities to slip in the backhanders. Each side will think they have won without the yelling and shouting. The Opposition will believe they have got their message across to the key people without the acrimony and the prime minister will win over the majority of the country. Problem is the big issues about financial stability, economic growth, defense of the realm, and maintenance of the rule of law will only be raised from the benches behind the prime minister.

  8. Edward2
    September 16, 2015

    I thought the tactic by Mr Corbyn of quoting various individual voters questions was novel but overall it did not work.
    An opposition leader ought to be more strategic and national in his or her questioning.
    Focusing on one person’s problem is the “bleeding stump” trick and it failed.

    I thought the Prime Minister was polite and effective at dealing with the predictable questions put to him.
    The more quiet session was however, an improvement with less heckling and interruptions.

    Perhaps the front bench tactic is to keep it polite, and let Mr Corbyn continue to reveal just how unelectable he is.

    1. Paul
      September 17, 2015

      According to Guido the Tories were under strict instructions to be nice 🙂

      Hardly surprising ; we want Mr Corbyn nicely embedded before dismantling him, that way more chaos for Labour lies.

  9. Amanda
    September 16, 2015

    Well Paul from Clapham, may feel that way, but how representative is his point of an issue for the country, and for that matter for the government ? It was tedious and trivial, and turned Parliament into a cheap phone-in.

    I suppose the new Labour Man wanted to show his ‘Wolfie Smith’ credentials – but I bet he will not ask the question posed by Gillian from Rochdale, who is concerned about immigration. Or even Sylvia from Golders Green who has a question on his support of terrorist organizations.

    I continue to look with horror at what has happened since the weekend, and don’t find it at all amusing. Her Majesty’s Opposition is important to our democracy – but you cannot say that about a group of people who would not look out of place in the Soviet Union pre 1989. The only difference being , that the latter were probably throughly loyal to the country they served – you cannot say the same about this lot !!!

    1. Mitchel
      September 17, 2015

      Could you really imagine that lot of bedsit Marxists getting to the top in the actual Soviet Union?!

    2. Iain Gill
      September 18, 2015

      Correct he isn’t going to mention immigration the same way that it is mentioned every evening in every working mans club up and down the country, which a true “labour” leader would. Or indeed the bloated inefficient state sector the way everyone let down by the NHS does. He has been quite clever keeping mainly to topics which I can agree with him on. Once he is forced to engage with other stuff he is liable to be wiped out in his heartland by the likes of UKIP.

  10. Ken Moore
    September 17, 2015

    Silly me – there was me thinking David Cameron might just be waiting to angrily put down Mr Corbyns most madcap ideas ..deliver a few home truths possibly.

    I endured Mr Corbyn reading a series of rather predictable and boring ‘letters’ (allegedly from Joe public) followed by Mr Cameron’s strange admission that “no one would be more happy than me” if PMQ’s is made less ‘confrontational.

    Really ?..a Conservative PM that is uncomfortable with ‘confrontation’ with a leftist zealot ?. Why is he PM or indeed in politics?
    What is he afraid of ? – or are his disagreements with Mr Corbyn so trivial they can be be dealt with over a cosy backslapping public chat ?.

    I thought the public are the losers – we want to see drama and passion (despite what the politicians say) not a couple of politicians making a pact to be nice to each other.

  11. Sam
    September 17, 2015

    PMQs today showed why Corbyn’s political senses are as numb as ever.

    What Jeremy needed to do was to get Cameron to mock him. He could then paint the Prime Minister as an entitled, arrogant chauvinist who represented everything wrong about establishment politics. Instead he allowed the Prime minister to rationally and soberly lay out his arguments. Corbyn is simply on the wrong side of public opinion when it comes to policies such as Trident, the deficit, welfare, NATO etc. and he allowed David Cameron to exploit that, before Nigel Dodds delivered the finishing blow in his question about the IRA.

    Corbyn was clearly trying to seem like a principled man of the people, but has now lost all credibility thanks to his spineless u-turn on the EU, abandoning his principles of democracy and fairness in lieu of politics as usual.

  12. Lindsay McDougall
    September 17, 2015

    There were no supplementaries to the questions so no pressure on the PM. As a Tory, I don’t mind that. Perhaps Mr Corbyn cannot think on his feet.

    The PM threw off the mask when Angus Robertson criticised the Scotland Bill as being inadequate. That’s the SNP – all about process, nothing about how they would use the powers. Pure piss and wind and hypocracy.

    “England isn’t taking enough Syrian refugees.” How many will Scotland take? “1,000”. Nicola Sturgeon would “take a Syrian family” into her home. But has she? Pure piss and wind and hypocracy.

    1. Martin
      September 17, 2015

      Could you explain how any party in Scotland can state how it would use powers when the new Scotland Act has not completed its’ passage through Westminster?

      As well as the SNP all parties will need to get their ideas sorted out ahead of next year’s election.

      Will SLAB put up council tax?

      Will the Tories indulge in right wing tax and spend? They have history of supporting unneeded extra police and more jails as do the SNP.

      Tax cuts – who knows?

      Fracking is controversial but could generate a lot of jobs and income for the Scottish Exchequer. As ever interesting times ahead.

  13. Leslie Singleton
    September 17, 2015

    I’m very sure that Cameron is not going to be too fussed if PMQ’s becomes (and stays) more civilised but as for “People’s Questions” I imagine that Corbyn will select those that he likes (and still only has six I assume) so there is a big element of Much Ado. What chance that a, possibly large, bunch of Labour MP’s resigns together and they together immediately fight by-elections under a new Party named along the lines of the Resistance or indeed just New Labour? Obviously this would be the wider Electorate voting, so no possible cause for complaint. When is the next (first?) opinion poll? Back to PMQ’s it has to be realised that this as it stands or stood developed naturally and reached an unimposed equilibrium so it is difficult to see why it won’t revert to form.

    September 17, 2015

    If the cackle-smatters on both sides of the House restrain themselves as they did then that would be more like a Parliament.
    The cut-and-thrust of previous PMQs was rather like Na-nana-naa-nah but a national embarrassment due to the ages of the participants.

    However, when senior persons of state engaged in PMQs as they used to do then it did send a subliminal message to everyone that in THIS country you can say what you want, when you want and how you want and to who you want however elevated in society they believe they be.

    In this new system it was Mr Corbyn asking questions of Mr Cameron. The old system would be Jerry giving Dave a piece of his and perhaps our mind.

  15. Know-Dice
    September 17, 2015

    I read this as an “olive branch”, an opportunity for all party’s to work together rather than constantly try and score political points.

    That said Mr Corbyns stated policies to date do seem to be pie in the sky….

  16. Mike Stallard
    September 17, 2015

    I am becoming increasingly worried about democracy. Up to now, we have delegated our politics to professionals who sit together and discuss stuff. We elect representatives every five years or so and then sit back and let them (you) get on with it.
    Mr Corbyn doesn’t see it like that.
    He goes direct to “the people” , by which he means unelected representatives, quite often, if blogs are anything to go by, completely ignorant nut jobs. It looks very democratic. It is anything but that actually.
    Dictators have used referenda and plebiscites from the year dot. It is so easy to hoodwink ignorant people, some of them with open minds, others bigoted prats. Like a lot of other things, it creates a good impression. Like a lot of other things, it is wrong.

    1. Leslie Singleton
      September 17, 2015

      The French have a saying. viz When you are going to drain the pond you do not consult the frogs. Makes sense to me.

  17. Antisthenes
    September 17, 2015

    It appears to work in David Cameron’s favour as he was able to actually explain in a manner that was much easier to understand the case why government was following the policies it is. His answers made what government was doing sound very plausible and sensible (I am biased of course). I think the style allowed for more thought to be put into the answers. His put down of the SNP chap (sorry forgot his name) was splendid I thought. He looked very much the statesman and considering I have not been much of a fan of his he went up in my estimation a little.

    Corbyn however came over as twit and that he lacks experience and competence. His contribution by taking some of the Punch and Judy element out PMQs was laudable. Naming questioners I thought was lame. He would have done better just saying they were questions he was asking based on emails sent to him by concerned citizens.

    If PMQs carries on in this manner then yes it will be a good improvement and if Corbyn carries on the way he did the only ones to benefit will be the Conservatives.

  18. eeyore
    September 17, 2015

    Mr Corbyn looked ill at ease and hid behind the public. He won’t be able to pull that trick many times. Eventually he’ll have to face gunfire.

    The old bearpit made sure Prime Ministers can handle stress and think on their feet. All we learned yesterday is that Mr Corbyn can’t.

    He still remains a huge asset to the Tories. It is in Mr Cameron’s interest to treat him gently – which is more than his own backbenchers will do. They, after all, know him of old. He’ll probably quit soon, citing ill health.

  19. JoolsB
    September 17, 2015

    Not only was it boring, (bring back the old style) but had anyone on the Tory side waffled on half as much as Corbyn, including the PM, biased Bercow would have let them know about it. How many backbenchers were denied a question due to the excessive amount of time he took on each question?

  20. Anthony
    September 17, 2015

    I rather liked it. The PM actually answered the questions. PMQs can get a bit rowdy and childish sometimes, but the incredibly frustrating thing is when the PM doesn’t answer the question. I say that as someone who has always voted Conservative.

    If the mechanism for getting actual answers out of the PM is that the questions come from the public, that strikes me as a worthwhile addition.

    There is value, nevertheless, in a more cross-examination style PMQs. Perhaps there is scope to move to two sessions one with questions led by MPs and another with questions fed in from the public.

  21. Ludwig
    September 17, 2015

    PMQs is an opportunity for the Leader of the Opposition to attack the government’s policies. It is a good idea to voice questions from members of the public, but after the PM has answered Corbyn just went “Oh, OK” and moved onto the next question. The usual combative style puts pressure on the PM and explains how a Labour government would perhaps do something different. At the end of these PMQs I had no idea what a Corbyn-led Labour party thought. Some members of the public may complain about the theatre of PMQs, but the reason it is normally so combative is because it is a major opportunity to attack government policy and the PM’s leadership directly. Without that it became more like watching the PM answering his mail.

  22. MickN
    September 17, 2015

    I hear it said that the public hate the Ya Boo aspect of PMQs
    Well I don’t – it is the only half hour of the week in Westminster that I really enjoy.
    If you accept that who ever is in power will not actually answer any questions it is always fun to see.
    I didn’t like yesterday but it is manna from Heaven for Cameron. He can avoid answering questions and when the opposition get rowdy now has the “I thought that we were having a new type of question time” put down to shut them up or make their leader look even more stupid. Corbyn has tied one hand behind the backs of all the PLP. It will all end in tears. I am just getting another box of popcorn to enjoy whilst I sit back and watch this debacle unfold.

  23. Gary
    September 17, 2015

    it sounded innocuous, but it may turn out to be very effective , depending on how the questions are phrased. It puts on the record the position of the govt and let’s that record stand to be judged by the public as events unfold. The answers could come back to bite the govt later.

    anything is better than the schoolyard donkey braying and cheap shots.

  24. Roy Grainger
    September 17, 2015

    It was just a framing device to deflect criticism from Corbyn, Cameron couldn’t attack too much without seeming to attack the questioner from the public. It is pretty meaningless as a reflection of public opinion though, Corbyn can write his own questions and then just trawl through his 40,000 emails to find the ones that match. It would become more powerful if he followed-up with more specific points rather than just moving on to the next question (like a radio phone-in) and if Labour actually had the people lined up afterwards to give their own feedback. It would be amusing if Cameron also started to read out in response emails from people supporting his policies, so contract the whole thing out to the public.

    I am interested in your views John, it seems to me that as Bercow allowed these overlong questions, almost speeches, from Corbyn it subverted the intention of PMQ which is really for backbenchers to raise issues ? Anyway I see today that in the chaos that is Corbyn’s media strategy he may drop the format next week anyway.

  25. JJE
    September 17, 2015

    An interesting experiment but gimmicky. We don’t elect people to tell us what’s trending on Twitter, we elect them to set the agenda and lead.

  26. JM
    September 17, 2015

    If Corbyn is going to persist with asking questions sent in by members of the public, he would do better by sticking to a single theme. He should see what it is that people are concerned about and then plan what it is he is going to ask, with supplementary follow ups, to elicit the information or to enable the criticism he wants. If, however, we have more of the Jane from Camden wants to know style of questioning, then I am sure the PM will happily attend PMQs every day of the week!

  27. L Edwards
    September 17, 2015

    If the point of PMQs is to show if the two leaders have a wide-ranging and in-depth grasp of their subject, and if they can think on their feet and thus react to unpredictable situations, then it utterly failed.

    Since Mr Corbyn seems to lack, or refuses to use, any rhetorical skills, his job could have been done better by any competent TV presenter. And since the questions were so ordinary, anyone who follows politics already knew what the answers would be. Next time Mr Corbyn should tell Mr Cameron the questions in advance and then he and Mr Cameron can get a spokesman to read out both questions and answers. Then nobody need bother with it at all.

  28. margaret
    September 17, 2015

    I did not see PMQ’s. Ken Clarke reported a more sensible calmer approach which I would welcome.

  29. Border Boy
    September 17, 2015

    The Corbyn line of asking questions from the public can only last a limited time. What are we the public getting from this line of questions? After all we have Question Time, Any Questions and numerous radio phone-ins where politicians answer questions from the public.

    What I want to see is the Prime Minister and the Government held to account by forensic, penetrating questions followed up by supplementaries and the Prime Minister (whoever he or she is) put on the spot by a skilful adversary. Looks like Corbyn won’t manage this by using his current technique.

  30. Iain Gill
    September 17, 2015

    You know my political leanings : ) hardly a left winger.
    Well I caught 95 % of Corbyns speech to the TUC and agree with almost all of it. The bit about the ruling classes talking down to those with working class or regional accents I thought was spot on, and completely in line with my day to day experience. The whole equality industry seems to have forgotten those with working class or regional accents and the ways they are routinely discriminated against.
    I caught most of his PMQ’s. I think he picked the subjects well. Housing is a major problem in this country which none of the political bubble have really got any common sense answers for, or are taking seriously enough, the answers trotted out by Cameron are frankly not good enough, we need to “go to war” with the housing problem.
    Mental Health services are crap, and Cameron was good enough to as much as admit it, but then so are the rest of the health services in this country. Sadly nobody prepared to start and admit the state religion aka the NHS is a failure and needs a radical rethink.
    Tax credits probably the weakest subject he picked. Certainly there is a lot wrong with the IDS approach, and a lot of inhumane treatment of our weakest members of society. But I wouldn’t have wrapped that nugget up with a defence of tax credits which are just another facet of an unnecessarily complex (and unnecessarily expensive to administer) tax and benefits system.
    I thought getting questions from the public was good. I think more quiet and peaceful reflection would be good if it could be achieved. It would be good if both sides could admit where there are real problems more often.
    I think finding issues of common ground should be easier. If I was PM I wouldn’t defend the price of houses, the lack of house building, the numbers of families living in B & B, etc. If I was Corbyn I would have jumped on Cameron accepting that mental health services are poor, and demanded early joint working on the issue.
    I think Cameron randomly throwing in that housing associations are inefficient was a good idea. They are inefficient, but nothing the government is doing is going to fix that.
    But I don’t really think either side has the answer to these problems, or the quality of people able to solve them, or even the self-awareness to recognise their own weaknesses. Answers will be forced onto the political bubble, they will not come from it.
    So in summary Corbyn is doing a much better job than any of the recent Labour leaders, although I don’t think he has any concept of what real solutions to these problems would look like, and more than Cameron does.

    1. Iain Gill
      September 17, 2015

      “I think Cameron randomly throwing in that housing associations are inefficient was a good idea” should be “I do not think Cameron randomly throwing in that housing associations are inefficient was a good idea”

      1. Iain Gill
        September 18, 2015

        “and more than Cameron does” should be “any more than Cameron does” sorry

    2. Iain Gill
      September 21, 2015

      Have a heart condition that demands an emergency stent and mostly with good quick treatment you can have a realistic life expectancy not much different to someone with no similar problem. Your chance of getting such a stent in the UK depends completely on which hospital the ambulance takes you to. Many hospitals are doing next to no stent operations at all, and basically leaving their patients to die. While others are doing ok, and some operating as per other developed countries.

      My own uncle was told on admission he needed an emergency stent, that the hospital “didn’t do many of them” (nice of the docs to be honest at least), and he was dead two weeks later. Of course that hospital gets away with this, the NHS is under no obligation to provide any treatment, and there is no incentive in the system for them to sort out this mess.

      So its not just cancer.

      Prostate cancer testing and early treatment is significantly substandard in this country. Compare the numbers of 40 plus men being tested for it in say Australia with here. Compare the numbers of prostates removed early after early detection between say here and Australia. Its not just drugs its the corporate failure of the NHS to apply even the most basic levels of care that would be expected in any other developed country.

    3. margaret
      September 22, 2015

      So what happens when the cerebral arteries begin to harden ,fur up and don’t give the brain a decent circulation of blood, therefore oxygen supply and mental health deteriorates…a form of dementia.. Is that a con?

  31. MikeP
    September 17, 2015

    Corbyn would be wise to accept advice from those around him that he can’t continue this new-style approach if he wishes to be seen to hold the Government to account. Cameron was able to spell out the party line and the Government’s achievements on every point without further challenge. While the chamber was more muted and civilised, Corbyn’s segment was underwhelming, like a father teaching his 3-year old son how to kick a football, all very gentle with no threat or surprises coming back.

    The more his performances are scrutinised (and they will be), the more he will be seen to be a principled, indecisive activist and idealist, more at home in academia or setting the world to rights with back-benchers rather than an impactful leader who can stand up to his front bench role, let alone the world stage. His interview with Laura Kuenssberg later on, in which he claimed to be surprised about the Privy Council formalities to kneel before the Queen, was either ill-judged or staggeringly ill-informed and inept. He just seems so under-prepared for the position to which he’s been elected.

  32. Chris S
    September 17, 2015

    For the opposition PMQs is their one opportunity to hold the PM to account personally and in public.

    While many will welcome the change away from the traditional bearpit, Corbyn’s style will never be able to cause the PM any serious problems, especially as he didn’t ask any follow up questions.

    Personally, I prefer to see the mettle of the leader of the opposition tested at PMQs. How will we ever know he or she is capable of holding their own in EU negotiations if they can be intimidated in the Commons ?

    I suspect it will be back to business as usual after a few weeks but Corbyn is so clearly unsuited to the role that I cannot see him surviving till 2020. Problem for Labour is that, with such an overwhelming mandate, he could only be replaced with another far left candidate, just one that would be a lot more competent.

    As Blair tried to tell them, they will never win power in the one place where an election is decided, England, from anywhere other than the centre ground .

    Labour’s biggest problem is Miliband’s poisonous legacy : a leadership election system that has handed power over the leadership to left wing Union leaders like McCluskey and the hordes of activists they have signed up for their £3.

    Labour members, their Union paymasters and those £3 supporters, have made it perfectly clear that they most definitely only want a left wing agenda.

    All Neil Kinnock’s work to eliminate the militants and make Labour almost electable has been destroyed and the prospects of the party set back forty year, ironically by the one man Kinnock himself said had brought them their party back.

    Will Ed Miliband go down as the man who destroyed Labour as an electoral force ?

    I suspect so.

  33. formula57
    September 17, 2015

    PMQ’s is too often just the platform for staging some televised theatre with questions asked achieving their originators’ purposes simply by being asked and the responses, if connected at all, providing little or no illumination. To the extent that Mr Corbyn’s change of style is indeed aimed at de-emphasizing the theatre that provides mainly for point scoring and instead is about making a genuine effort to oblige the head of government to explain and justify what the government is doing, then that is very welcome.

    Mr Corbyn’s use of questions from the public was an astute move to side step forensic analysis of himself at his first appearance as Opposition Leader but such an approach makes life too easy for the Prime Minister.

  34. Bert Young
    September 17, 2015

    Corbyn was “stage shy” ; he was shrewd enough to put questions from the public rather than expose himself and possible ridicule . His appearance displays his personality – he is an introvert , highly conscious of his utterances of the past and unwilling to accept challenge . Those who know him well and are keen to move away from extreme socialism , have distanced themselves ; they know he has not got what it takes to unite Labour .

    As someone who had much to do with the screening and selection of individuals for top jobs , I know that Corbyn would not have been short-listed ; he has too many mistakes in his background for him to qualify ( the media have already latched on to these details and exposed them ) as the leader of the Labour Party . He will suffer from these embarassments as long as he fronts up for it .

    1. Iain Gill
      September 18, 2015

      Selection for top jobs in the UK is full of prejudice and routinely picks different kinds of people to our competitor nations. As can be demonstrated by the number of Brits in top jobs in the USA, for instance, who were rejected here.

  35. Iain Moore
    September 17, 2015

    Cameron inadvertently summed it up when he called it Question Time, for that is what it will be if we have peoples questions to the PM.

  36. a-tracy
    September 17, 2015

    John, I’d be interested in your thoughts about “sniggering” MPs on the Conservative Benches is that professional? I don’t think it is. Do you think it’s professional of a Leader of the Opposition to talk in anecdotes from Tom, Dick and Harriet, it sounds like something I’ve amateurishly done on political blogs for years and reprimanded for? I don’t think this is professional he is there to represent all the people not just one or two’s issues. He’s no more a man of the people than Boris, he went to a private school and has spent his life in politics. When he wants to provide free housing over the cap for people who have never worked at anything other than making babies in London or incoming people whose work falls through then throw themselves on our state bringing in their families to get bigger free homes, what does he say to the people working in London who have to live over an hours commute to be able to afford a home when he wants more taxes off their middle class backs to pay for it? When he says he wants a NMW of £10 per hour, how do the poorest pay for the products they use when they rise with inflation, how will the state pensioners cope if their pensions don’t rise in line, how much tax will have to rise to keep the public sector worker pensioners on index linked final salary pensions in line for the twenty plus years they’re not working? He doesn’t like his privacy invading, yet his party “yah boo” over every private matter their counterparts get wrong in their private lives, politics is a dirty business, it does need cleaning up on both sides and the Conservatives need to lead the change.

    If Bercow allows Corbyn to get an easy ride the public won’t like it. People that constantly concentrate on the bad things in this Country are getting people down, I’m not saying they shouldn’t be discussed and debated, I’m saying your party need to ensure that their successes are championed and make people feel good about the progress that has been made on jobs say and how well business has adapted to the new pension schemes that have and are increasing their costs from 13.8% to 16.8%, taking on all the responsibility for sickness benefit payments, increased the tax take for the government to spend, met EU regulations on hours, implemented the socialists shouts for flexible working and more part-time work life balance and prosecuted people that have been reported for breaching the rules. You should be talking up your economic management skills and how National Rail have wasted tax payers money gambling of money markets and how your government has put a stop to this. You do these things and unless people read your blog they don’t hear about the screw ups in our public sector organisations, they only hear about how much better they are in government hands!

  37. botogol
    September 17, 2015

    Leading with a question that has been raised by 1000s of voters is not a bad opening — it establishes the question of being of general and legitimate concern.
    Cameron will always have a good answer to any question on any broad topic (he is good!) so Corbyn HAS to then follow up the opening borad stroke with one or two neat dagger strokes on particular areas of weakness in the area in question.

    Being polite and civilised to each other is clearly a good thing.

  38. Mike Wilson
    September 17, 2015

    It was nice to see it a bit less like a chimps’ tea party. The problem with rowdy PMQs is that it makes it look MPs think the whole ‘running the country’ thing is one big joke with a nice salary and perks.

    That said, all Cameron has to do is be polite and point out that he, and most of the country, disagree with Corbyn’s ideas and that will be that.

    I did hope that Corbyn would be a breath of fresh air in UK politics – but his stance on NATO, Trident and things like tax credits make him sound and look like a 6th form student. Which, in a way he is. He has been sucking on the teat of the public purse almost all his working life and, before then, worked for a union which sucks on the teats of its members. Life must be great for him and, when life is great for you, it is so easy to have a conscience and be a nice guy – with other people’s money.

  39. yosarion
    September 17, 2015

    I have not bothered to watch it, so should I comment?, yeh on Newsnight he said that he sent out emails and had 40000 replies, I’m guessing that these were not random and came from a page connected with him. Once again he is representing .5% of the population at best who boost there marches week in week out up and down the land ( and bloke are infrastructure in the process} with their banners by attending each others parades.

  40. Denis Cooper
    September 17, 2015

    It seems to me that PMQ’s as a once-weekly televised gladiatorial contest is largely the creation of the media, like the televised debates before elections, and I can’t say that it appeals to me or that I pay as much attention to it as the media would like.

    I don’t recall it attracting so much media attention when it was twice-weekly, of course that was changed by Blair shortly after he became Prime Minister in 1997:

    “I became convinced that PMQs twice a week was an enormous amount of time for a debating tournament. Statements were very different and I made more of them than my predecessors. But once I changed it to once a week for half an hour, and then moved it to midday, not 3pm, it freed up an entire day and a half of time.”

  41. Bob
    September 17, 2015

    He should have asked the PM why workers on minimum wage are having their pay further minimised by deductions for tax and NI. Why isn’t the tax free allowance set at the same level as the minimum wage?

  42. English Pensioner
    September 17, 2015

    As many have remarked elsewhere, it seemed more like one of these radio phone -in shows. Simple questions which Cameron could answer without any difficulty, no follow on pressing for more detail, just a bland answer to a simple question.
    Nothing real about the burning issues of the day, the thousands of refugees invading Europe and the huge risk of them including ISIS terrorists, which seem to be one of the main concerns of a large part of the population.

  43. Anonymous
    September 17, 2015

    Corbyn avoided disaster against a seasoned despatch box operator and that is all he has to do.

    PMQs is a waste of time anyway. A very limited opportunity to scrutinise the PM.

  44. Chris Taylor
    September 17, 2015

    I thought he looked out of his depth and the questions he read out were there as a prop to keep him on track. Rabbit in the headlights sprang to mind. He will be unable to hide behind his stageiness for long and will quickly be exposed on policy. It was too easy for Cameron yesterday. I can understand why he would not wish to be seen beating up a pensioner but this will change after the fake mandate wears off. I almost feel sorry for Corbyn but then I remember his disrespect in St Paul’s……..

  45. atlas
    September 17, 2015

    … well it certainly restrained the Flashman impulse in Cameron for the moment. You could see as time passed that Cameron was getting to the point where he needed to let off the pent-up steam.

  46. oldtimer
    September 17, 2015

    Mr Corbyn`s approach (using questions asked by the public) got him through his first PMQs unscathed. But it seems to me that it suffered from two flaws. First it gave Mr Cameron the opportunity to restate and justify government policy and actions on the issue, at times in some detail; second Mr Corbyn failed to ask any follow up questions.

    I concluded that Mr Corbyn was under prepared, perhaps totally unprepared, for PMQs. I suspect it is not a format that will bother Mr Cameron very much; in fact he will be able to be well briefed on the predictable issues that Mr Corbyn will be likely to raise. We have yet to see if Mr Corbyn actually is up to the cut and thrust of debate and is more than a mere messenger – which was his role yesterday.

  47. miami.mode
    September 17, 2015

    A bit of a wasted opportunity.

    It’s not often that you get a chance of asking follow-up questions following an answer from the Prime Minister. MPs put questions and the Prime Minister normally just swats them away as you would a fly because he knows that they cannot come back to him and the MPs are left shaking their heads or mouthing unheard responses. In a similar manner many TV interviewers have a list of questions to politicians and simply move from one to another without challenging the answers although Andrew Neil seems an exception.

    It takes great skill and presence of mind to challenge answers in a public situation, which David Cameron obviously has, and to be honest the best I have seen to challenge him would be David Cameron himself, although William Hague always seemed pretty good.

  48. Martin
    September 17, 2015

    PMQs reminded me on an elderly lecturer asking an undergraduate some questions and treating the answers with disdain. The lack of follow up questions was poor. Very easy for the PM.

    The rest was the usual under arm bowling from government MPs and opposition MPs trying to bowl it into the rough.

  49. Paul
    September 17, 2015

    It’s pointless.

    DC can do nothing with those questions, because all he has is a quote from the supposed letter from someone, who may be exaggerating, after more funding, or have other vested interests, or makes generalisations e.g. ” Mental Health on the point of breakdown”.

    How is he supposed to answer that without knowing where and why ? Money shortages, staff shortages, bad management, bad government, all of the above ?

    He can know nothing about the case in question to make a comment on it (unlike say the question from the Redcar MP about the steelworks) so there is no answer other than generalisations about hospitals or whatever.

    It would be better to actually invite Marie and Kevin into the commons and let them ask the questions themselves ; at least then DC could find out some background on it (Blair did this once, very early on, not in the HoC but a televised Q&A I recall)

    There are also no follow ups. It’s on to the next question from Kevin from Bicester.

    The only time Corbyn made a hit was when DC said something about “helping those who want to work” and he answered “not everyone has that choice” (you can argue this isn’t actually true, but it was a good comeback), but rather than develop on that he went on to ask a question about something else.

  50. Kenneth
    September 17, 2015

    The adversarial style is not perfect but it is good at holding law makers to account and weeds out weak positions. It also helps to prevent cosy collusions. It’s also entertaining and interesting.

    I have not heard any ‘clamour’ from anybody to change PMQs. The pressure has mainly been coming from the left wing media which has seen Ed Milliband trounced at the despatch box.

    I think the main worry for left wingers is that Mr Cameron is a very good performer in HoC.

    Meanwhile the BBC announced (on Newsnight on Monday) “Welcome to the new politics”.

    Sorry, but a change of the opposition leader is not new politics.

  51. Tad Davison
    September 17, 2015

    I feel Jeremy Corbyn was clever by offering to do things differently. David Cameron used to wipe the floor with Miliband, and Mr Corbyn couldn’t afford that to happen again on his own watch and so soon after becoming the leader of a very disunited party. He had to move Cameron away from his main advantage – the Prime Minister’s ability to come back with a quick and damaging retort.

    For all his faults, I actually like Jeremy Corbyn, and I don’t disagree with him on everything. I do agree that a lot of people get a raw deal and that needs to change, but there are better ways to bring that about than taxing the very people who create the jobs, to the point where they take their investments elsewhere.

    Mr Corbyn might also do well to highlight some of the most pressing international problems, and how he proposes to solve them. If we could stop the excessive exploitation of under-developed countries by big irresponsible corporate interests, and instead, create a thriving local economy that would raise the living standards of the local population, we would be free to trade with them, and boost UK jobs. Those countries wouldn’t then lose so many of their most talented people who presently feel the need to relocate, but I await Mr Corbyn’s foreign policy announcement with much anticipation.

    As far as Mr Corbyn is concerned, it’s early days and he’s still feeling his way. The party he pleads is still infused with Blairites – those dangerous neo-liberal interventionists who must carry their share of the blame for the trouble we now see in the Middle-East and elsewhere. They’ll be looking to topple Mr Corbyn unless he bends to their ways, so we’ll have to see if Mr Corbyn’s much vaunted ideals can withstand the test. For the moment, I expect it will be ‘steady as she goes’. If he’s to be criticised, I would prefer it to be on matters of substance.

    Tad Davison


  52. The Prangwizard
    September 17, 2015

    He’ll need to come up with something better, it will be mind-numbingly boring if he continues with this ‘question from a listener’ stunt. It was just awful and so false – pretending to be such an nice gentle caring chap when he is quite the opposite.

    I look forward to the day he is seen to loose his temper, because he has a very nasty side and very nasty beliefs. Cameron shouldn’t fall into the trap of trying to match his style – it will give Corbyn the high ground when he doesn’t deserve it, and make Cameron seem weak and easily led.

  53. Peter A
    September 17, 2015

    Cameron just needs to bide his time and play along. There will be splits and gaffs soon enough and then he can use the bully pulpit to split the PLP. The shadow chancellor is a ticking time bomb!

    It’s only a matter of weeks before some research on these questioners reveals some facts. Corbyn can ask all the boring niche questions he wants, using other people to put forward his arguments but when his anti aspiration, monolithic state, high tax, anti english, anti armed forces policies and predilections come out Cameron will be in dreamland.

  54. CdBrux
    September 17, 2015

    I listened on the radio. 2 major plus points for me:
    * much more civil and the behaviour I would expect. To those who like the constant shouting I would ask if you would accept that sort of behaviour at home or at work?
    * more detailed questions and answers / explanations. This more serious approach I think gives more credibility, something parliament has been lacking in what the public generally get to see – it may help change the publics perception of MP’s

    Corbyn missed a few tricks as has been mentioned, in particular the follow up questions. However that is content and not format and if he’ll improve on that, indeed at one point he made a remark about people not having the choice on finding a job with a high enough wage which if he had left it at that may have proved harder for DC to answer than the next question Corbyn then asked!

    There are very few Corbyn aims I would like to see adopted, even remotely, however this is one those I hope sticks.

  55. Dan Lucraft
    September 17, 2015

    I disagree entirely with his approach. I have disagreed with the general idea that we need to “fix” PMQs for a long time.

    PMQs is a window into our MPs emotions and loyalties. We get to see in a very raw way whether the support for their leader is full-throated or not. If we got rid of it or reformed it we would simply not get that information through any other channel.

    Yes it’s uncivilised. That’s because the MPs are letting their guards’ down and showing what they really think (you can try, but it’s hard to give a full bodied shout when you don’t really feel it).

    It’s also very popular (people try to get tickets to it over regular debates by a huge margin). Not many people watch it, but way way more people watch it than anything else that happens in the Commons.

    The idea that 30 minutes with 6 polite questions and answers is going to produce real debate and illumination on policy is ludicrous. The most indifferent Prime Minister ever can easily read out a polite answer to a polite question.

    People who want to reform it should have to prove their credentials by demonstrating that they avidly watch the other, more civilized Commons debates that already happen.

  56. Kevin Lohse
    September 17, 2015

    Mr Corbyn’s ploy smacked of desperation. He is clearly not yet up to speed on the big questions in Parliament. He could, for example, have asked about the 3rd consecutive monthly increase in unemployment statistics, always good for an Opposition leader. Many of his beliefs are contentious and he is clearly not yet confident enough to defend them in open debate on the floor of the House, and certainly not until he has purged/converted/threatened the (largely hostile) bulk of the PLP into accepting his ways. Asking the PM a series of phone-in questions gleaned from Labour Party supporters should be considered purely a cosmetic measure to hide his inadequacy. At least he now has until after the conference season to come up with something much less dire, however, I am not hopeful that he will improve as an advocate of his policies.

  57. Julian
    September 17, 2015

    Easier for David Cameron partly because of the format but also because his opponent has no front bench experience – political lightweight.

  58. Peter Davies
    September 17, 2015

    I don’t think it matter what we think. Bottom line his well documented history and views plus his lack of appropriate experience makes him very unsuitable for the role he is in so in reality he will probably be in post for a year or two at most before he is pushed out by the media then his party.

    The Tories must feel like they are in heaven – first Milliband then this…

    Good point is that the longer he stays in post the less likely a labour govt, the bad point is that if something bad happened and the govt collapsed and labour took over we really are up ** creek without a paddle

  59. Wireworm
    September 18, 2015

    Corbyn should take ‘phone-a-friend’ more literally and have the questioner on the other end of a phone line, watching the broadcast. Then that person could immediately follow up with a supplementary.

  60. David Pearl
    September 18, 2015

    Wednesday felt more like “Prime Minister’s Statements” than questions, with the statements being prompted in a general sense by six questions from a postcode lottery of 40,000 Labour supporters.

    PMQs is supposed to be an occasion when the Government of the day can be held to account. Corbyn once again showed that he has no mastery of Parliamentary procedure, despite his many years in the House. Witness his apparent ignorance of the Privy Council and its ways.

    Surely in all those years of attending PMQs, when there have been times that the Leader of Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition has had the PM on the ropes, Corbyn wasn’t asleep at the back of the class?

    As a democrat I deplore Corbyn’s anodising of an admittedly unpopular but often effective part of the parliamentary week.

    This is an integral part of our adversarial system of government. It helps to sort out those capable of leading our nation at home and abroad and those who just can’t cut the mustard.

    For example, on Wednesday next week Mr Cameron will travel to Brussels to represent British interests at the emergency meeting of EU national leaders on mass immigration. Like many others I’m certain the PM won’t express the UK’s opinions forcefully enough. The late Lady T would, I’m sure, have laid into the German Chancellor and held her responsible for the consequences of her shambolic, vacillating, and deeply damaging migration policies. Lady T would then have proposed concrete solutions, however unpopular they might have sounded at first.

    Despite Mr Cameron’s shortcomings, one thing I do know from Mr Corbyn’s performance at PMQs – if he were Prime Minister he would do infinitely worse than our current PM will do.

  61. David Edwards
    September 18, 2015

    Having read through the comments posted I agree with many that suggested Corbyn might have attempted with his approach to represent himself as a man of the people and more particularly to hide that he was quite nervous (understandably). I would imagine that as he gets into his stride it will return to business as usual, as indeed it did with DC.

    1. David Edwards
      September 20, 2015

      thinking about it further, is it the point that Corbyn as an overall strategy is attempting to subvert main stream media using personal analogies in PMQs, supporting what he hopes to use, which is more social media, not so much to motivate the electorate, but rather activists, and then perhaps by ‘knocking on doors’ subsequently the electorate??

  62. Mercia
    September 20, 2015

    The time is shortly coming for Mr Redwood or Mr Davis to have another attempt. Mr Redwood preferably. Peter Hitchens is subtly setting things up this morning.

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