Wednesday, 16 September 2015

Radio 4's PM on Corbyn's PMQ

New Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn held his first Prime Ministers Question Time on the House of Commons today, and his innovative approach of using questions for the public was of great media interest. It was the lead item in BBC Radio 4's "PM" programme, but BFTF was hugely disappointed by the way PM gave around 21 minutes airtime to talking ABOUT the PMQ, as compared to just over 1 minute reporting what was ACTUALLY SAID in the Questions and Answers. Unsurprisingly, this approach meant that only a very small proportion of what Cameron and Corbyn said was actually reported.

It felt like the PM team were more interested in fluffy discussions about Corbyns tone and clothing than in the questions themselves. BFTF felt let down and that PM had failed to inform the public properly.

Dear BBC, This is not the way to keep the British Public informed

The entire debate can be read in the Independent, and the six questions asked are shown below :

"Does the Prime Minster not think that it’s time to reconsider the question of the funding of the administration of housing as well as of course the massive gap of 100,000 units a year between what is needed and what is being built?"

“What does the Government intend to do about the chronic lack of affordable housing and the extortionate rents charged by some private sector landlords in this country?"

“Why is the government taking tax credits away from families? We need this money to survive so our children don’t suffer. Paying rent and council tax on a low income doesn’t leave you much. Tax credits play a vital role and more is needed to stop us becoming reliant on food banks to survive."

“How is changing the thresholds of entitlement for tax credits going to help hard working people or families? I work part time, my husband works full time earning £25,000. We have five children. This decrease in tax credits will see our income plummet.”

"Do you think it is acceptable that the mental health services in this country are on their knees at the present time?"

"[Mental Health treatment] beds are unobtainable, with the result that people suffering serious mental health crises are either left without adequate care or, alternatively, are admitted to facilities many miles away from their homes, relatives and family support systems. The situation is simply unacceptable."

Perhaps, instead of spending over 6 minutes asking three members of the public what they thought of Corbyn's performance, the PM team could have analysed the background to the PMQ question about their being a 100,000 a year shortfall in house building.

Or perhaps there could have been some analysis of Cameron's comment about the Conservative "... plan for an extra £8 billion into the NHS in this parliament which can help to fund better mental health services, amongst other things.", especially given that this repeated Conservative claim about extra money is in the context of forcing the NHS to make £22billion of "efficiency" savings.

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