House of Commons speaker John Bercow has received a barrage of complaints in the last few months from angry viewers about the "childish and rude" behaviour of MPs during Prime Minister's Questions.
BuzzFeed News used a Freedom of Information request to obtain all correspondence sent to the speaker about PMQs since the end of November last year. The majority were emailed complaints about the unruly behaviour of MPs who heckle throughout the weekly session.
Bercow has long warned MPs that the public hate to see them jeering at their political rivals, and repeatedly calls for order during PMQs. But voters called on him to do more to shut down the abuse.
This person was "absolutely appalled at the childish, rude attitude" from MPs on both sides of the House.
"These are supposed to be adults but their behaviour is tantamount to a playground full of spoiled children that cannot get their own way. Shouting across the floor of the HofC is worse than hooligans at a football match and should be cracked down on very very firmly."
MPs "talk all the time and shout and generally behave like unruly gangs of children", another viewer wrote.
"I used to be a Teacher and would never allow any pupil in my classroom to behave in such a manner. ... Surely there are more effective measures you can take and perhaps it is time to make an example of someone who demonstrates such rudeness and disrespect. ... The House looks like a rabble at times."
Others said Bercow needed to take more action against the worst hecklers, and said calling "Order, order!" was not enough.
And the worst offenders should be suspended from the Commons, according to this email.
The viewer wrote:
"Is it possible that you and your deputies could warn the parties' leader or shadow leader that the most disruptive would be suspended from the House after a public warning? A 'sending off' would, I hope, concentrate the minds of the remainder of the MPs."
Some told Bercow he wasn't very good at controlling the "rabble", particularly when it came to the heckling of SNP MPs.
The angry viewer said:
"You may believe that you are doing a good job of controlling this house with an even hand; I can assure you that you are not when it comes to Scottish MPs when your intervention to quiet the rabble either comes late or not at all."
"You rarely achieve order and PMQs ends up being 50 minutes and not 30 minutes," one viewer complained.
However, it wasn't all bad – Bercow did have some admirers.
"We have watched Prime Minister's Questions for years but you, Mr Speaker, would seem to be the first to establish real order. ... You, sir, are doing an admirable [job] in corralling these belligerent and ill behaved MPs," one person wrote.
Some people were very cross about MPs looking at their phones during PMQs.
The person annoyed about phones said:
"I find it very discourteous when Cabinet members are laughing at jokes on their mobile phones during PMQs. It may seem OK to them, but not to their voters. How can they expect respect when their behaviour is below that of a school child."
Another called for an "outright BAN" on phones in the Commons chamber.
While others were more concerned about the dress code, in particular Jeremy Corbyn's apparent choice of footwear.
This person wrote:
"Today at PMQs, the Leader of the Opposition stood up in full public view and was wearing grey trainers with velcro fasteners. Appreciate he often feels like doing a runner after them, but surely this is unacceptable."
A spokesperson for Bercow told BuzzFeed News: “The speaker is committed to maintaining order in the House of Commons chamber and will continue to challenge any member whose conduct can be deemed unruly or offensive.”
Emily Ashton is a senior political correspondent for BuzzFeed News and is based in London.
Contact Emily Ashton at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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