Time to get the house in order - shake up PMQs
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Ambitious, connected, ruthless, rich and male. This is how Mumsnet users described politicians in a survey we published this weekend.
One of the biggest turn-offs is Prime Minister’s Questions: the weekly showdown between the PM and the leader of the opposition. Half of people who responded to our survey said it damaged the reputation of parliament, and three-quarters said it was outdated and unprofessional.
Too often, it can feel as though the people who represent us are making a mockery of democracy. As one Mumsnet user put it, "Might as well get some preschoolers to call each other poo-heads and be done with it."
For ages now it seems we’ve all accepted that Parliament is out of touch with the people it represents. But it doesn’t have to be that way.
Prime Ministers can make changes to PMQs when they want to. In 1997, for instance,Tony Blair replaced the two weekly 15-minute sessions with one half-hour session.
So we’re calling on David Cameron to give this huge Parliamentary showcase a much needed shake-up. Let’s reform the way we run PMQs.
The Hansard Society have proposed a new kind of politics: a new, engaging way to conduct PMQs which can help rebuild trust in politics and politicians. This could include introducing rapid-fire Q&As, more open questions, taking questions directly from voters via social media, and penalties for MPs who behave badly.
Britain is one of the world's oldest Parliamentary democracies, and we want our children to grow up proud of that and eager to engage. At the moment, worrying numbers struggle to find the will to vote. PMQs should be about holding power to account - not about planted questions, scripted answers and 10-second soundbites for the TV news.
Join me in calling on David Cameron to pilot changes to PMQs along the lines proposed by the Hansard Society - before the next election.
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