Jeremy Corbyn crowdsources questions for calmer PMQs

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn during his first PMQs session. Picture: PA
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn during his first PMQs session. Picture: PA
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NEW Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn brought his people’s revolution to Prime Minister’s questions as he grilled David Cameron with contributions from members of the public.

In his first appearance as Leader of the Opposition in PMQs, the far left MP, who spent his previous 32 years in parliament on the backbenches, aimed to bring a “more adult tone” to proceedings and chose six questions from more than 40,000 sent to him from ordinary people.

He read out queries from Marie on housing, Steven on rents, Paul on tax credits, Claire on benefit thresholds and Gail and Angela on mental health.

Mr Cameron welcomed the change in tone, telling his new Labour adversary that “no-one would be more delighted than me” if PMQs could become a “genuine exercise in asking questions and answering questions”.

Just before the beginning of the 30 minute session, a still shocked parliamentary Labour party was silent as Mr Corbyn, who received the wholehearted backing of only a handful of them, entered the chamber.

In comparison the Prime Minister was met with loud cheers from the Tories as he arrived for his first confrontation with the MP for Islington North.

However, the Conservative benches held back from the usual heckling and jeers which have characterised PMQs and listened respectfully to the new Labour leader.

Mr Corbyn, wearing a second hand beige sports jacket, asked his questions in a sober, low-key manner and did not resort to the kind of quips and put-downs normally exchanged.

He also thanked Mr Cameron for his commitment to answering questions “in a more adult way than it’s been done in the past”.

But the Conservative leader did not entirely resist the opportunity to go on the attack. “We will not have a strong NHS unless we have a strong economy, and if the Labour Party is going to go down the route of unlimited spending, unlimited borrowing, unlimited tax rates, printing money, they will wreck the economic security of our country and the family security of every family in our country,” he said.

There was also a difficult moment for Mr Corbyn when senior DUP MP Nigel Dodds furiously asked Mr Cameron to condemn the comments of the new Labour leader’s close friend and shadow chancellor John McDonnell who said that IRA terrorists should be honoured.

Mr Dodds said: “The Opposition leader has appointed a shadow chancellor who believes terrorists should be honoured for bravery. Will you join with all of us on all sides of this House in denouncing that sentiment and standing with us on behalf of the innocent victims and for the bravery of our armed forces who stood against the terrorists.”

There were also jibes from Tory MPs about defence spending which Mr Corbyn wants to cut and his failure to sing the national anthem on Tuesday.