Columnist David Worboys: Any questions?

Columnist David Worboys: Any questions?

IF you are British, I am sure you must be very concerned about the political future of our country. Don’t you despair at the incompetence, intransigence and lack of judgement of our current leadership and of so many of our politicians? I find it deeply depressing and even dangerous.

I watched the weekly Prime Minister’s Questions a few weeks ago and I find a disturbing connection between the shambles in parliament and the ineptitude of our politicians, and not just in their handling of Brexit and Covid. I feel that the Speaker is ineffective in introducing any discipline into this chaotic House. He allows constant interruptions, howling, growling and neighing. Every time a question is posed half the members jump up and down like jack‐in‐a‐boxes.

The Speaker seems content to preside over an unruly assembly. And I should have thought that the whole purpose of PMQs is for questions not merely to be asked but seriously and truthfully answered by the Prime Minister. Whenever I have watched the procedure (about six times a year), this doesn’t happen and the Speaker just lets it go. This may be why the whole farce is not known as ‘Prime Minister’s Answers’.

There never is a straight answer. Especially with the present incumbent and his dodgy relationship with the truth. Or is Westminster intended as a comedy show? I recently saw the First Minister of Wales sworn in by somebody dressed as Santa Claus wearing a judge’s wig. Then there is the Black Rod charade, where members get excited like children at a pantomime.

Likewise we have the unconvincing practice of ‘dragging’ the Speaker to the chair. It’s all rather like a badly acted primary school play. And these are the people who govern our country. Some of them negotiate with senior politicians in Brussels. The current government took us out of Europe, mishandled Covid and we are now paying the price in both political and economic terms. Free movement of people, goods and services around Europe has given way to chaos at our airports and seaports. The implications of a failed health service are potentially fatal, while education, transport, law enforcement and, of course, the economy continue to cause enormous concern.

Each Spanish member in the Congress of Deputies has an individual seat while the person speaking uses a special platform. In the House of Commons, the 650 members are crammed into a chamber huddled uncomfortably together on long green leather benches, rather like a Public School assembly. This probably explains everything.

If you are asking how the UK got into its current predicament, just take a look at the next PMQs ‐ normally on a Wednesday at 1 o’clock pm (mid‐day GMT).


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