Everyone in Britain thought the weekly Prime Minister’s Question Time, also known as PMQs, would be a disaster for the new radical leader of the left-wing British Labour party Jeremy Corbyn.
This is mainly because he has only given a couple of interviews since he won the leadership race at the weekend, refused to speak at the House of Commons for the first time as party leader on Monday, and for not singing the national anthem at an event commemorating the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Britain.
In fact, it has caused such a fuss amongst the public, politicians, including those in his own party, and the British media that the BBC asked him about it before he entered the House of Commons.
PMQs is conducted every Wednesday at midday and is a chance for politicians to question the Prime Minister, which is David Cameron.
Usually, opposing party leaders and politicians ask questions on behalf of their party, and in turn the Prime Minister answers with usually heckled and ridicule filled responses. This is part of the process.
However, Corbyn did something incredibly clever and will likely score some points for him amongst the 59.5% which voted him in. Instead of coming up with the questions himself, he emailed Labour party members to ask what questions they wanted him to ask.
“I want to thank to the enormous democratic exercise that took place that allowed me to become the Labour party leader,” said Corbyn in his opening statement in parliament. ” I have taken part in many events across the country and people tell me that this place, our parliament, democracy and the conduct in this place [parliament] is too theatrical. People want their voices heard, so I thought that I will do PMQs a different way.”
He added that he received 40,000 emails and in the end he picked six. The questions naturally hinged on housing, welfare, and health services, specifically mental health.
This is clever because Prime Minister David Cameron wouldn’t be able to mock the question or the person asking it. If he did, it would look like he was directly insulting the civilian who asked the question.
“This question comes from Marie, ‘what does the government intend to do about the chronic lack of affordable housing and the extortionate rents that private sector landlords are charging,'” said Corbyn has his first chosen question from his constituents.
Corbyn is seen as a radical left-wing politician who is happy to reverse the Blairite policies of the past. He is a staunch socialist and even sang a socialist anthem after winning the Labour Party leadership race. He wants a government that will nationalise more companies, abolish austerity, and levy more taxes on business.
This is basically the opposite of what the Conservative-led government stands for, and it is a radical push to the left for Labour. You can read all about his policies here.
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