PMQs Watch – the role of the audience

Corbyn negotiates with the chamber to establish the floor

Sometimes establishing your right to the floor after being selected by the Speaker can be difficult. Here Jeremy Corbyn (JC) has to negotiate with the chamber:

DC: ... are the British people
    and hard working tax payers
Chambers: ((cheers of approval))
SP: Jeremy COR::BYN
JC: mister speaker (.) we’ve had (.)
    we’ve had no answers (.)
    on google (.) we’ve had no answers on Jeff (.)
    can I raise with him another (.)
    another unfair tax policy
    that does affect (.)
    many people in this country (.)
    this morning (.) the court of appeal (.)
    ruled that the bedroom tax
    is discriminatory because of its impact
    ((stares at member of audience))
    I don’t know why members opposite find this funny
    because it isn’t for those that have to pay it
Chamber: ((general noise))
JC: and the ruling is ...

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Margaret Ferrier unable to finish her question

Sometimes the chamber can wrestle the floor from a speaker. Here Margaret Ferrier (MF) is unable to finish her question as the chamber becomes increasingly impatient with the length of her turn. As she raises her voice to be heard above the noise, the Speaker eventually steps in and cuts her off. She is unable to rise again as the Speaker hands the floor over to the Prime Minister:

SP: Margaret Ferrier
MF: thank you mister speaker (.)
    since the chancellor of the exchequer (.)
    took control of the public purse (.)
    he has utterly failed to get the deficit under control
Chamber: ((general noise))
MF: and to date this year (.) has borrowed
    over 74 billion to plug the gap (.)
    or to use the vernacular
    that his party is fond of using (.)
    for a hypothetical independent Scotland (.)
    a monumental financial black hole in his books (.)
Chamber: ((‘here here’))
    is he is he now likely to breech
    their own deficit reduction target
    for the year by somewhere in the region
    of nine billion pounds (.)
Chamber: ((increased noise))
MF: ((raising voice)) will (.) the prime MINister (.)
    finally concede (.)
     ((gestures to opposition benches))
    ((shouting)) will (.) the prime MINister (.)
SP: order (.) I- I don’t wish to be unkind
    to the honourable lady
    but I think we’ve got the jist
Chamber member: ‘sit down’
SP: er er that was- no no no no (1.0)
    order (.) order that was a polite way of saying
    that the honourable lady had concluded her question
    the prime minister
PM: aahh

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Co-opting the audience

MP’s speaking in the HoC can often co-opt chamber members to provide vocal backing to their words in order to emphasise their points. Here Nusrat Ghani (NG) reveals ‘shocking’ news that the shadow defence secretary has received donations from a law firm that is seeking ‘spurious’ legal claims against British troops. In a clearly orchestrated attack, chambers members in the vicinity of the MP can be clearly heard shouting ‘shocking’ several times on the voice feed in order to emphasise the distaste for the news:

NG: thank you mister speaker
    the recent explosion of spurious legal claims
    against British troops (.)
Chamber: ((‘here here’))
NG: including those pursued by the law firm
    that has donated tens of thousands of pounds
    to the shadow defence [secretary undermine
Chamber:                  [oh shocking shocking shocking
    shocking shocking     
NG: undermine [the ability of our armed forces
Chamber       [shocking

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PMQs – 27/1/2016

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