Prime Minister’s Question Time
When I lived in Chicago, I use to watch the British Prime Minister’s Question Time via C-SPAN quite regularly. I was enthralled because every Wednesday when the House of Commons is sitting, the Prime Minister is required to spend half an hour answering questions from Members of Parliament. As these sessions require the PM to have a good command of the issues (domestic and international) as well as be a good debater, I always thought that if the US President had to face questions from Members of Congress on a weekly basis that persons like George Walker Bush wouldn’t have won re-election never mind be elected in the first place.
In any event, when I moved to London, I continued to watch the weekly sessions via BBC Parliament. And this past December, I decided to contact my MP Bob Neill to see if he could help me secure a few tickets to sit in the Strangers Gallery to watch an upcoming session. After much back and forth with one of his aides, I got two tickets for this past Wednesday, 23rd January.
What perfect timing! Perfect as the Northern Rock situation which I have been following closely was the main subject of debate between PM Gordon Brown and opposition leader David Cameron. For 15 minutes Cameron tried to get Gordon to answer questions related to the latest rescue plan for the bank without much success. Not surprising since Brown’s government has totally mismanaged the situation.
The PM then took questions from other MPs related to the economy and a whole slew of other issues. Some so obscure that when he started quoting statistics from papers in front of him, I knew then that some of the questions had to have been submitted in advance. This didn’t really take away from the excitement of being there. In fact, my only complaint is that it all ended rather too quickly! Half an hour is simply not long enough.
So here’s hoping I get to go again soon. Watching the government at work close up (even if there is a lot of posturing and school boy playground antics) was pretty exciting!