A sneak peek inside the forthcoming issue of Parliamentary Affairs

Parliamentary AffairsParliamentary Affairs, which was established in 1948, is a peer-reviewed academic quarterly covering all aspects of government and political representation directly or indirectly connected with Parliament and parliamentary systems in Britain and throughout the world. 

It is co-edited by Professor Philip Cowley and Professor Jonathan Tonge and is published by Oxford University Press in partnership with the Hansard Society.

In the forthcoming issue Stephen R. Bates, Peter Kerr, Christopher Byrne and Liam Stanley analyse the opening sessions of Prime Minister’s Questions (PMQs) for the last five Prime Ministers in order to test a general perception that PMQs has become increasingly a focal point for shallow political point scoring rather than serious prime ministerial scrutiny.

Their data appear to confirm that PMQs has become both rowdier and increasingly dominated by the main party leaders.

It also indicates that Prime Ministers are increasingly expected to be able to respond to a wider range of questions, female MPs are as likely to ask helpful questions but less likely to ask unanswerable questions than male counterparts, and MPs are less likely to ask helpful questions and more likely to ask unanswerable questions the longer their parliamentary tenure.

More surprisingly perhaps, our findings also suggest that, at the beginning of their premierships at least, Thatcher and Brown appear the most accomplished in terms of the fullness of their answers, and Blair and Cameron the least accomplished.

You can read this paper online here.