Today saw Jeremy Corbyn’s first PMQs as the new Labour Leader. He had an instant impact: successfully managing to both alter the format, including questions from the public for the first time, and to encourage a more subdued Chamber with far less heckling and boorishness. Let’s see how long it lasts….
Corbyn did achieve his main objective of changing the format of PMQs, but failed to properly take Cameron to task on any of the issues he raised. The unfortunate reality for Corbyn is that while the “questions from the public” format is admirable and likely to be popular, it is unlikely to challenge Cameron in a meaningful way – in fact, it could backfire completely, becoming a weekly PR opportunity for the Prime Minister.
Perhaps the least rowdy PMQs that we can remember, the ‘new’ format instilled an unfamiliar silence in the chamber. The Conservative leadership knew what was coming, suitably briefed their benches to behave and subsequently received an obedient response.
Whilst it could easily be “a woman called Marie” – especially since she appeared on LBC following PMQs – the rising star this week has to be Jeremy Corbyn. He managed his first appearance as Leader of the Opposition well, producing a sincere and measured performance, despite being a long way from the relative comfort of the backbenches that he enjoyed for so long.
Best joke of the week
The only comment that got a laugh this week was Cameron’s scolding of the Labour party for their noise: “I thought this was meant to be the new PMQs?”
Issue of the week
Whilst Corbyn tried to focus on housing and treatment of the mentally ill, the issue of the week this time was undeniably that the public now seem to have a new method of engaging directly with the Prime Minister. How long Corbyn will pursue this strategy remains to be seen but it is certainly the issue people will be talking about after today’s proceedings.
Sum it up in 140 characters
A curtain raiser for Corbyn’s new Labour party but ultimately an easy ride for Cameron – how long will “questions from the public” last?