Bercow wants to reform PMQs so that there is less show and more scrutiny. Whilst it might sound like a good idea, I think the atmosphere around PMQs is a strong attraction and reason for why people watch it. Take Bercow stopping Cameron from reading out of Price’s book today, many people I saw tweet and comment about this were genuinely interested in what he was going to say (I was one of them). There are many other debates and committees that are set up to allow for scrutiny, but this type of debate is also needed to maintain interest in politics.
Remember the rules around the leader debates before the election – there were many who were annoyed at the strictness of them, and the inability the audience had to banter, respond and make any noise – in consequence, the audience soon broke the rules.
I don’t know however, if I speak for a few or many people – that is why this sort of reform would benefit from public debate. I agree that PMQs is hardly the most informative political debate, but it adds a bit of light-heartedness to what is a very serious and sometimes complicated trade (politics). I think if PMQs was radically altered from what it is now, people would really miss this current format – a lot more than they may currently think they would.
Also, it is important to remember the scrutiny that takes place after PMQs and the debates this can spark. Even if there is no rigid scrutiny within the 30 minutes, there are programmes and newspapers who look into comments, report them and further people’s understanding of important issues. Furthermore, with new technology, there are many sites such as twitter, updating blogs which provide ample scrutiny of the ongoings.
There may however, be areas where PMQs need reforming; planted questions (which Bercow raises) can be very tedious – but the actual style of PMQs – the banter and the entertainment aspect – for me, has to stay.