POLITICS

'Is David Cameron Mentally Ill?' Letters Show Public Still Deeply Unimpressed With PMQs

17/07/2014 09:23 BST | Updated 17/07/2014 14:59 BST
PA/PA Wire
Prime Minister David Cameron speaks during Prime Minister's Questions in the House of Commons, London.

"Nodding donkeys", "sneering fools", "jeering cranks" and "screeching women", despite the best efforts of John Bercow, the public are still less than impressed with the behaviour of MPs during prime minister's questions.

A Freedom of Information request submitted by The Huffington Post UK has revealed that the Speaker has received, on average, one letter of complaint a day over three months about the conduct of politicians during the weekly clashes between David Cameron and Ed Miliband. The "juvenile braying" and "thuggish rowdiness" of MPs is clearly not appreciated by all.

The prime minister's is also frequently singled out for criticism by members of the public in the 94 letters sent to the Speaker's office from April to June 2014, with one irritated voter even asking Bercow if Cameron has "some mental illness".

Another rather traditional man was distraught at "Lady Members of parliament who are wearing 'off the shoulder' attire" which he said "lowers the standards that one expects from Lady MPs whilst in the chamber".

Bercow is famous, or infamous, for his attempt to calm MPs down during noisy PMQs exchanges. And he has warned that the "blood sport" behaviour of MPs could cause "carnage" to the reputation of parliament. He often cites the number of letters he gets of complaint from the public as evidence.

The letters, seen by HuffPost, largely congratulate the Speaker on his efforts, with Bercow praised as "erudite" and "flawlessly fair". However not everyone is impressed. "HAVE YOU NO CONTROL?" one angry member of the public asked. "Betty Boothryod would not have put up with this kind of behaviour," adds another.

ALSO: Someone Wrote A Poem About PMQs And Sent It To Bercow

Full screen mode is recommended to read the letters, the story continues below

PMQs Complaints From Members Of The Public


The latest letters suggest continued public irritation about prime minister's questions. In December, a similar Freedom of Information request submitted by the Mail Online revealed that the public complained to the Speaker about the "buffoons, morons and braying donkeys" at PMQs.

The HuffPost revealed at the same time that the Speaker received just 61 letters concerning the noise at prime minister's questions between July 2013 and December of that year. The latest batch of letters show the number of people complaining has increased.

montypython

This is just one of the many complaints from the public

Since this April, MPs' behaviour at PMQs has been branded "farcical" and "extremely juvenile". One member of the public said MPs "disgrace us all with their behaviour". Another complained their elected representatives "seem more and more like public school yobs", adding: "MPs are supposed to be responsible grown up men, not clowns in suits."

One wrote to Bercow: "Listening to PMQs it seems to me that Mr Cameron may be suffering from some mental illness. I would think that he might have paranoia by the way he shouts at question time and does not address questions from Mr Miliband at all, but rants irrelevancies. The rudeness and condescending attitude may be partly result of his education, but surely only partly. It is frightening to think that the ability to unleash nuclear war may rest in the hands of someone with mental illness."

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The public make the views known about PMQs...

Another asked: "Does the drunken behaviour of MPs (I hope they are drunk and do not normally behave in this way) allow you to suspend proceedings?"

This sentiment was shared by another writer who said: "When debating serious matters which affect the whole country I would expect a level of gravitas, maybe they've spent the morning in the Commons Bars."

One avid viewer of PMQs called for the sessions to be scrapped outright as "the current crop of MPs appear to be little more than lapdogs". He added: "I do vote and I'm sick and tired of the trust fund brigade who are unable to even be civil to each other and just score cheap points over questions no one in the public actually wants asking."

john bercow pmqs

John Bercow's silencing of MPs does not always go down well with politicians, who like to get stuck in

PMQs, one letter writer worried, was "descending into a fiasco over the past few years" and laid into Cameron for making "inane insulting statements to perfectly acceptable questions which I would like the answer to."

"Neither David Cameron nor Ed Miliband appears to have any idea why they are there," one writer pondered. And Cameron's own behaviour drew more public ire, with him being branded "sneering", "arrogant" and a "bully".

"His favourite occupation is to insult the leader of the opposition," one member of the public wrote of the prime minister. "David Cameron is not a statesman, I can only think his training in the Bullingdon Club had left him the bully he undoubtedly is."

Another complained about Cameron: "He keeps deflecting the question to Labour party activities such as advertising for jobs. Not once did he answer the question directly. HE IS A LIAR AND A CHEAT."

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MPs are a 'laughing stock', says one of the milder letters

Other complaints included that Beercow deduct the pay of the "over-paid idiots" who "sneer and bray" and that the weekly sessions were like a "monkey house at the zoo". The "ridiculing, even bullying behaviour sickens me" added another voter (or perhaps non-voter).

Bercow replied to all the letters thanking them for getting in touch. However he often had to explain that he was not able to impose total control over the chamber.

The Speaker replied to one angry voter to try and explain that PMQs was not typical of the debates that take place in the Commons: "Parliament is not a debating society," he said. "It is an arena in which political argument finds its expression and it is inevitable that from time to time passions run high. However, this is by no means typical of parliamentary business, most of which is conducted in a much more orderly fashion."

Bercow does not escape criticism himself. One voter was annoyed that he was "much too English" in his manner of overseeing parliament, he added of MPs: "some of them are just plain stupid".

Another member of the public complained to the Speaker: "You preside over this event in the same manner that Leonard Sachs used to compare the Musical Hall programme 'the Good Old Days' as though it should be viewed as a form of entertainment."

Some of the more ... exciting ... PMQs exchanges can be viewed below: