thumping the tub
Tub-Thumper - 1. A speaker or preacher who for emphasis thumps the pulpit; a violent or declamatory preacher or orator; a ranter. (from This blog will be a combination of reasoned posting somedays and an occasional rant.
Tuesday, January 24, 2006

There is something in the UK that the media, politics professors and a whole host of politico's froth over - Prime Minister's questions (PMQs).

Roughly defined, this is a single half hour on Wednesdays at 12pm where Members of Parliament get the chance to question the 'Prime Sinister' about anything they choose to. The political classes trumpet this piece of political theatre as proof positive of the virtuosity of the UK political system. You can hear them asking questions like "Where else would a leader subject themselves to this 'ordeal?'" and "isn't our PM fabulous for doing it?"

It is often suggested that this is the only country in the world where a leader has to deal with such a thing. That is only one of the things that are misleading about the way this event is presented to us.

I want to make this clear...It is not an ordeal and it doesn't mean anything.

For the Prime Sinister really to be given a hard time at PMQs, a few things would have to change.

Firstly, they would have to stop planting questions with ambitious MPs. This trick is often used. Prime Sinisters like it because it eats up time and they can use the question to make a prepared statement at a moment when a lot of the country's political classes are looking on. Some of the questions are so fawning as to make one sick. Take this example....

Mr. Robert Jackson (Wantage) (Labour): Will my right honourable friend accept an invitation to visit the Rutherford Appleton laboratory in my constituency to see the new Diamond synchrotron, which is nearing completion there? It is the biggest single investment in the history of British science, made by this Government, and it is a very apt symbol of the commitment that this Government-and the Chancellor and the Prime Minister-have made to the future of British science.
What an ordeal eh? Imagine having to answer a question like that, the poor poor Prime Minister. Quite a bit of the half hour is taken up with this sort of nonsense. MPs like it because it gives them a chance to cosy up to the cabinet in the hope of getting a cabinet post in the future.

It all runs according to a formula. Questions are sent in two weeks in advance. This means that the PM will have all the answers worked out by some of the staff. All the PM has to do is read the answer. The PM will also sit with some of the staff and work out which unsubmitted questions might come up. MP's are not strictly supposed to do this but they occasionally do. The PM does not have to answer these questions if s/he doesn't want to. If the PM does not answer the question then the worst that will happen is that the PM will look bad in front of the public for about a minute and may get a bit of hostile coverage.

The leader of the main opposition party is allowed to speak or respond 6 times, the leader of the third largest party is allowed to speak twice. This means that whatever the opposition leaders (or anyone else) say to the PM, the PM will ALWAYS have the final word. If the PM is a reasonable debater then it is highly unlikely they will ever lose the debate.

The final, and most important thing that would have to change is that MPs would have to not be the spineless little corporate turds that, for the most part, they are.

Prime Ministers questions is just a piece of political theatre that helps to maintain the illusion that we are being given any choice other than rampant and rapacious capitalism. I am utterly fed up of people crooning about this event as if it meant something other than a few politicians stroking their ego's.
posted by michael the tubthumper @ 12:31 pm  
  • At 6:45 pm, Blogger GraemeAnfinson said…

    The questions are sent in two weeks in advance? I did not know that.That is why T blair looks so fucking smart

  • At 9:30 pm, Blogger SafeTinspector said…

    The sad thing is that, up until very recently, all of Bush's questions were pre-screened. And he still looked like an idiot!

    As for the little animation clip:Very well animated! Personally, I think its all about money and oil. Simple greed and people with the power to exercise it.

  • At 10:49 am, Blogger michael the tubthumper said…

    yeah graeme, that is why. he is quite smart though. there are lots of intelligent criminals.

    hi safeT. i still don't have an explanation for george bush.

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What is Tubthumping and who is doing it?

Name: michael the tubthumper
Home: Glasgow, Scotland
About Me: Tub-Thumper - 1. A speaker or preacher who for emphasis thumps the pulpit; a violent or declamatory preacher or orator; a ranter. This blog will be a combination of reasoned posting somedays and an occasional rant. 28 years old, I write and research for a couple of websites and also do my own stuff.
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Thumping The Tub Video

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I have made a few short movies. Here are links to free downloads for them all in the order that I made them (as far as I can remember). Please feel free to use, distribute, disagree with, shout at etc etc

  • Praise The Lord and Pass The Ammunition
  • This was a REAL song from World War 2. I was so stunned by it I had to make a movie

  • How Far Is It From Here to Nuremberg
  • This is my attempt at a video for the excellent, if worrying, David Rovics (see links) song

  • What You Like
  • I believe the word for this is "splenetic". Only 20 seconds long.

  • Imperial Measures
  • What is going on in Iraq? Some things you knew, some you didn't. A couple of bits of info are out of date now.

  • Wish You Were Here
  • Wish You Were Here is a 6 minute film about the unprecendted rate of animal extinction we are currently experiencing

  • Gorillas and us
  • I don't like creationism, neither did Douglas Adams

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    some of the blogs I look at
    Arse of the month

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    The inaugural 'Arse of the month' award goes to our very own Scottish First Minister Jack (Joke) McConnell. He seems to spend a lot of his time sucking up to english politicians and yet it appears they don't even know his name. Follow the link to see..

    It's All Gone Scottish

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    A list of some other Scottish sites and blogs most of which, if not all, are pro-independence. I don't agree with content on all of them obviously. Some are Scots at home, others abroad.

  • The Scottish Patient
  • Kim Ayres
  • Our Scotland
  • average tosser
  • 1820
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  • J. Arthur MacNumpty
  • World of Jack McConnell
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    If you like this site and think it is time to start getting informed here are a few real favourites of mine that will help you blow away the corporate and government propaganda you are constantly bombarded with. It is added to every so often.

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