4 November 2015

The Tory boo boys should stop jeering Jeremy Corbyn at PMQs


You were busy. You were in a meeting. You don’t care. Which is why, despite my better instincts, I watched PMQs, so that you didn’t have to.

I won’t go over the many reasons PMQs, when MPs quiz Britain’s Prime Minister for half an hour each week, is generally unspeakably awful. The Speaker of the Commons, John Bercow, is right‎ that the noise and braying looks terrible on television. Any watching voters are treated to a self-satisfied spectacle in which a minority of MPs (and sometimes a majority) boo, shout and jeer. There are a handful of good, serious questions from backbenchers, but they are swamped by what happens at the moments of peak “excitement.”

But the approach of the Tory boo boys in particular makes no sense. First, the attempts to shout down and harry the Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn look like school-boy bullying. It is baffling why they think it is effective. It helps Corbyn, making him look like a dignified, kindly man trying to ask about those losing out from tax credits or about the problems of the NHS.

There is another reason the Tories who jeer should shut up, pronto. Corbyn’s questions should be heard in virtual silence, which will highlight that he is seriously duff at the despatch box. I’m not saying speaking there is easy (I’m sure it is terrifying and extremly difficult) but even so, Corbyn is a dud and he asked for the job. His rhetoric never takes flight. He garbles his attack lines. He’s wooden. He can’t think on his feet. His questions are clunky. There’s no light and shade, no humour. He’s a poor perfomer. He’s off the scale. And right now the Tory boys who like to boo are not only being rude, they are making Corbyn look better than he is. They’re doing him a favour.

Iain Martin is Editor of CapX.