Order. Questions to the Prime Minister”. Every Wednesday in the House of Commons at midday the British Prime Minister faces questions from all sides of the house, being held to account by MPs and the leader of the opposition.
For many, the corridors of power in the Houses of Parliament will always remain a mystery or maybe you have no interest in what really happens there. Recently I was lucky enough, if lucky is the word, to be invited down to London to attend a session of PMQs.
I had been invited to the Commons as the guest of our local MPs Henry Bellingham, Steven Barclay and Norman Lamb. I have to admit, it’s not the first time I’ve been to Westminster, but it is since the so-called new era of “calm” politics.
Ever since Jeremy Corbyn was the surprise winner in the Labour leadership contest, the exchanges over the dispatch boxes have been somewhat and notably subdued. That is compared to the rowdy confrontations of years gone by.
For decades, there were fierce, heated and sometimes angry exchanges between the Prime Minister of the day and the Leader of the Opposition.
The last time I observed PMQs, Tony Blair and William Hague were facing each other across the infamous green benches. Back then and even until recently, it was thought of as a bit of a circus with jeering, shouting and heckling from both sides of the chamber
However, during my most recent visit, the atmosphere was very different indeed. Mr Corbyn took his now familiar, more defined, statesmanlike approach to proceedings than his predecessors. A debate was certainly had, but the thrusting of views actually took place in the Central Lobby and adjoining corridors than the debate itself in the Chamber.
One thing I did learn from my most recent visit, whatever your political persuasion, more needs to be done to engage, enthuse and inspire the electorate to engage in the political process.
On a more personal note, I saw first-hand just how hard our local MP Henry Bellingham works, not just on behalf of his constituency but indeed the Government, the country and other wider interests. It really was a chance to see what really happens inside Westminster.