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Robbien Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue May-25-04 05:07 AM
Original message
Blair answers questions - what a concept!
Okay, I admit it: I watch too much TV. Way too much TV. Most of it is junk, of course, but every once in awhile I stumble upon a diamond in the rough. You may not know it, but the best show on television isn't on ABC, CBS or NBC. It's on C-Span.

. . .

Your first reaction will probably be one of surprise, because an elected leader actually standing up and answering questions has become a woefully rare sight in the United States. And yet there he is, Tony Blair himself, fielding any question from any House member willing to ask one.

Your second reaction will then be a sudden urge to laugh, because after a moment the process strikes you as completely absurd. Blair sits in the middle, flanked on both sides by what appear to be bleachers containing the members of the House of Commons, half of whom jump to their feet shouting because they wish to ask a question.

One of the members is then recognized, asks a question and sits down, and Tony Blair hops out of his chair with his trusty notebook - which as far as I can tell contains all of the knowledge in the world - and answers the question. He then sits down and again half the House members jump to their feet like they were in a deranged whack-a-mole game and shout to be recognized.

Boring you say? Not hardly, especially once you hear some of the questions. For example, it is not unimaginable to hear a member of Parliament from the tiniest county in Great Britain stand up and say: "Would the good Prime Minister please explain why he had his head up his arse on the 19th of March in the year of our Lord 2003 when he sent British troops into Iraq to support an immoral war waged unjustly by an immoral President Bush?"

http://www.californiaaggie.com/article/?id=4534
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Michael_UK Donating Member (285 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue May-25-04 05:28 AM
Response to Original message
1. I love Prime Minister's Question Time
PMQ is absolutely wonderful. You can stream it live via BBC Five Live radio every wednesday. It's quite comical, especially the way the house roars when Michael Howard stands up.

Whatever one thinks of Blair, you have to admire the fact that he has to tackle so many questions in a way that George Bush could never attempt.
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Guy_Montag Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue May-25-04 05:36 AM
Response to Reply #1
2. PMQ one of my secret vices too.
But I do get fed up with Government loyalists say things like...
"Would the right honourable member agree that since we introduced such & such policy, life has become infinately better for everyone in the whole wide world?"

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MrSlayer Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue May-25-04 05:57 AM
Response to Original message
3. Love the PMQ's.
I would love to have this here. The Chimp would never be able to hang with this. He absolutely must have everything scripted.
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No Mandate Here. Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue May-25-04 06:06 AM
Response to Original message
4. I had wondered, last week after the purple powder incident-
if it was going to be shown on Sunday- and sure enough, it was.

Blair does admirably standing there- and I always find myself wishing he weren't supporting *s war, because he is a very well prepared, articulate and witty leader.
Even when the MPs disagree vehemently, there are almost always signs of civility- even smiles and laughter. This is sorely lacking in our Gingrichian system of two party rule. I hope it comes back under the 'Right and Honorable' President Kerry.
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soothsayer Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue May-25-04 06:32 AM
Response to Original message
5. It's fun, but it's all just a show---like the 9/11 hearings are here
You watch that stuff all happy that they're going to get to the bottom of this, and quickly realize, Oh. This is just to pacify us. The pretend grillings, the praising, the displeasure, the vitriol. Cuz you know it's all high fives and back slapping between the commissioners when the camera's off, like "Woo hoo! We looked liked we were really going to do something."

Feh.
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mrfrapp Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue May-25-04 07:19 AM
Response to Original message
6. It's not that open
"And yet there he is, Tony Blair himself, fielding any question from any House member willing to ask one."

It's not that open. An MP wanting to ask a question has to make a request beforehand to the Speaker of the House. He is then called by the speaker to ask his/her question if he is spotted during the melee. In practice, this means that the PM has a good idea of what questions will be asked and can prepare accordingly.

Also, although Blair does answer questions in a public forum I would say that it is now-a-days very rare for him to actually answer the question that was asked. One thing Blair does very well is turn any difficult question on it's head and answer the question he would have rather been asked. Prime Ministers have always done this of course, but Blair is taking it to ridiculous levels IMO. Unfortunately, because of the way Prime Minister's Question Time is set up, an MP who hasn't had his question answered satisfactorily cannot force the issue. The only people who can are the opposition leader and the leader of the third party.

PMQT is a good addition to Parliamentary democracy but it's a woefully inadequate method of keeping the PM accountable.
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