PMQs Watch

Corbyn negotiates with the Chamber

The example below is a good example of how the current speaker at the dispatch box, Jeremy Corbyn in this case, often has to negotiate with the chamber to establish their rights to the floor. Corbyn has become well known for introducing questions from members of the public at PMQs. In the transcript below, it is interesting to note that the ‘groans’ from the Conservative benches actually start when Corbyn says ‘sent’, interrupting Corbyn and indicating that the Conservative benches were perhaps waiting for the first question of this type.

LO: can I (.) put to him (.) 
    a question I was sent (.) [by
Chamber:                      [((groans))
         ((8 sec pause and general noise))
LO: mister speaker it might be very amusing
    to members opposite (.) but 
Chamber: ((general noise))
    ((5 sec pause))
LO: but I was sent this question (.) by Karen
    and she I quote
    why is the prime minister punishing working families

External link to clip

Corbyn waits 8 seconds for the noise to subside. This is a very long pause in the context of the House of Commons and PMQs where speakers often prefer to continue talking through noise. The interruption also causes Corbyn to get side tracked and instead of asking the questions he directs his ire at the ‘members opposite’ (i.e. the Conservative benches). He waits another 5 second before continuing with the question.

Corbyn’s preferred option at the moment when confronted with noise and hostility from the chamber is to pause and direct his stare at the hostile members. This is in contrast to previous opposition leaders such as Ed Miliband or Harriet Harman.

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