The frivolity of Prime Minister’s Questions.


There were laughs reverberating around the hall of the House of Commons today as Tory MP Nadine Dorries asked “Will the Prime Minister show the Deputy Prime Minister, who is the boss?” She raised the issue in conjunction with NHS reforms. Someone should inform Dorries that no one in the Country actually gave permission for these NHS reforms (when I say no one, I obviously exclude John Nash over at Care UK).

On a side note, for those who do not know Nadine Dorries, she attempted to prevent abortion providers giving NHS funded counselling to women, under that famous Tory justification-of-the-disgusting as “patient choice”. The amendment to the Health Bill, seeks to force the NHS to provide “independent” counselling to women seeking an abortion. The worry is, this opens the door for faith based groups to provide counselling to pregnant women. This isn’t beyond the realm of possibility, given that Dorries other anti-abortion campaign in 2008, was funded by Christian Concern for our Nation. This is a Christian fundamentalist group, who believe any kind of pro-equality legislation for homosexuality, is anti-Christian legislation. Here is what their site says:


Sexual orientation is being given increasing protection under equality legislation. Unfortunately this has led to serious consequences for Christians.

Here is its EDL style fear tactics, on Islam:

From the introduction of Sharia law and Islamic finance to the implications on freedom of speech and women’s rights, the presence of Islamism in the UK has great repercussions for all of us.

– They seem to be under the impression that the introduction of entirely Christian fundamental values is a wonderful thing, but any other religious fundamentalists must be great evils. I want neither. They also seem to be under the impression that we have a country controlled by Sharia and Islamic finance. How odd.
They have arguments against the scrapping of the Blasphemy laws (we genuinely still had blasphemy laws up until 2008 …… not 1534……2008!) on their site. They are shocked that anyone would support the scrapping of Blasphemy Laws. Speaking on the site, Andrea Williams defends the Blasphemy laws because they protect against “strident criticism” of God. That it protects against “sexual assaults against Jesus Christ. Making sexual overture towards Christ”…. sounds similar to the way Muslims reacted to the drawings of Mohammed…irrational, and dangerous. After much of what i’ve wrote on this blog, I guess if the laws were still in place, I could be prosecuted for it.
Anyway, This is who funds Dorries campaigns. That is who Dorries is.

Today, MPs voted overwhelmingly against it, and rightfully so. After such a crushing defeat, Dorries said:

“Actually, it was the most tremendous success. We lost the battle but we won the war”.

– One recalls Tariq Aziz in 2003, as the Ba’athist regime in Iraq crumbled, insisting that victory was imminent.

The laughs were justifiably aimed at the pointlessness of the question, and Cameron’s absolutely correct refusal to answer it, but to me it highlighted two problems:

I) Nadine Dorres has simply amplified growing concern on the Tory benches that the Lib Dems are diluting the message of Conservatism. This Blog by Conservative home echoes similar sentiments. It is vastly misguided in its anger. They seem unable to grasp the concept of not winning an election. They did not pass the post. They did not get a majority. They do not have a mandate to initiate deeply right winged, Tory principles. If the Deputy Prime Minister were to be suddenly struck down with a conscience, and said “We are not voting for anything you put forward any more“, the “boss” would appear incredibly impotent. The Country did not choose one boss or one Party. We did not elect a Tory government. We elected a mixture. Doubtlessly Nadine Dorres is simply annoyed with Clegg’s refusal to back her ludicrous religious fundamentalist anti-abortion campaign. What the Tories are doing now it seems, is attempting (as Conservative Home did in the blog I linked to) to use the diluting of Tory policies by Liberal Democrats, as a reason for weak growth. So, that’s the Lib Dems, Europe, the Royal Wedding, Labour’s legacy, and the snow, that the Tories have blamed for weaker than anticipated growth. Even so, the point remains valid; someone needs to tell those like Dorries, who seem to think they have some sort of inherent right to rule, that they didn’t win the election. This is not a Tory Parliament. Even to claim they won the most seats, is fallacious, given that more people voted for slower deficit reduction – Labour/Lib Dem – than voted for the pace now being forced upon us. As far as I can tell, the Lib Dem dilutions aren’t good enough. This is a very very Tory Government. Frustrated about being in Coalition with the Lib Dems? Tough. The public don’t want a very Right Winged government. Either you operate a minority government, or you deal with Coalition. You have no other choice.

One must wonder what the polls would be saying, if the Tories were able to cut even deeper and apply Tory principles where otherwise they are diluted by the Liberals. The Poll from Yougov yesterday, despite Lib Dem dilution, showed that when asked “Thinking about the way the government is cutting spending to reduce the government’s deficit, do you think this is… “
Only 35% said it is good good for the economy. 27% said it is being done fairly and 52% said it is being done too quickly. Even now, having not won the election, they still don’t have a majority of the country agreeing with their policy. They have no mandate. They do not understand this.

II) Prime Minister’s Questions last for thirty minutes every Wednesday. It is a chance for our nationally elected legislature to interrogate the government. Given the rapid nature of change in schooling, the NHS, the struggles facing people who are the victims of deep austerity, the Libyan conflict; It is simply a waste of a question, and a stain upon the fabric of Parliamentary Democracy for an elected representative, who has the opportunity to ask anything at all, to have the nerve to stand up and ask the Prime Minister to bitch slap his Deputy into place. I would have preferred for Cameron to have spent that wasted time laughing at the insanity of Nadine Dorries, instead answering questions about his apparent vast NHS reform support from The Royal College of Nurses, despite their Chief Executive Dr Carter saying recently:

….. we are telling MPs that this Bill risks creating a new and expensive bureaucracy and fragmenting care.
This fragmentation risks making inequalities worse, and preventing health providers from collaborating in the interests of patients. We must avoid a situation where existing NHS providers are left with expensive areas of care while private providers are able to ‘cherry pick’ the services which can be delivered easily.”

– Isn’t the dismantling of the NHS, and the Prime Minister’s refusal to accept the almost universal condemnation of the reforms, far more important to the future of the Country and the people who live in it, than Nadine Dorries personal dislike of Nick Clegg? She should be ashamed of herself to continuing the politics of theatre in a supposedly “honourable” National Legislature.
Shouldn’t we be asking why former Director-General for Commissioning and System Management for the NHS and now “health policy expert” on David Cameron’s personal NHS advisory group said this to a group of Private Healthcare lobbies, organised by private equity firm Apax:

“In future, the NHS will be a state insurance provider not a state deliverer. The NHS will be shown no mercy and the best time to take advantage of this will be in the next couple of years.”

– Doesn’t seem like the Lib Dems are fighting hard enough to me. Heaven knows what the Tories would be pushing for now, had they won a majority in 2010. It is unnerving to think about. Nevertheless, it isn’t a Tory government and so excessively Right Winged policies like that on the NHS, really need to be fully scrutinised during Prime Minister’s Questions.

Dorries isn’t the first. I blogged not long ago, on the subject of Loughborough Tory MP Nicky Morgan asking misleading and futile questions in Parliament, having emailed her to point out her pointlessness. She, oddly, blamed by anger at her helping to bring down the intellectual discourse that we expect from our Parliamentarians…… on my apparent sexism. To this day, I fail to understand her point, and cannot comprehend how someone of that level of stupidity manages to get elected. But it isn’t just restricted to the Tories. Labour and Liberals are just as guilty of weak and frivolous questioning in Parliament. It is one of the very reasons I am thoroughly anti-Lords reform. I do not want a second chamber full of mediocre career politicians trying to score points against each other. I am quite content with an appointed Lords based on merit and expertise. Another House of Commons, would be a disaster. I don’t care if it’s elected. It’s irrelevant. If all we can achieve by the Democratic process in this Country, is a Health Secretary funded entirely by the Private Health sector, and a mad old Christian who spends her time throwing darts at Nick Clegg, then perhaps Democracy isn’t all it is cracked up to be. We expect more from our politicians. It becomes increasingly obvious that people who spend their debate time, taking cheap shots at each other, should be not representing anyone, in any walk of life. They are not worthy of the office of MP.

We are told constantly of the importance of voting. That our ancestors fought for this privilege. Well, Parliamentarians fought civil wars, their brothers and fathers and sons were killed, for the supremacy of Parliament. Parliament must be worthy of our vote, because that is what wars were fought to ensure. Do we really think that the current Parliamentary tussling, complete with childish attacks and needless questions at the expense of serious debate and discourse, is truly worthy of the vote that is apparently so precious? The degradation of Parliament is circular, in that the mediocrity of our career politicians creates an air of ambivalence toward politics and the democratic process. In return, the disinterest of the electorate necessarily creates a system in which it becomes far easier for mediocre career politicians to enter politics. It is almost certainly the reason we need an unelected House of Lords.

Nadine Dorries may have raised a laughable question, but it illustrates a growing disease in Parliament. Prime Ministers Questions is a public arena, for rather bad theatre, than an arena for informed debate and intelligent discourse and holding the most powerful office in the Country to account, and that is a worrying state of affairs.

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