The UK's new Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn has called for an end to "theatrical" debates during the weekly parliamentary question session with the PM. He said it was his job to speak up "for ordinary people."
The opposition head urged Prime Minister David Cameron to use the weekly Prime Minister's Questions (PMQs) session in parliament to answer questions posed by citizens rather than indulge in confrontations with the opposition.
Corbyn is allowed to ask six questions to the prime minister, but the newly-elected Labour chief asked people for suggestions and received more than 40,000 responses. He put forward questions from "Angela," "Steven," "Claire," "Paul," "Gail" and "Marie," which dealt mainly with providing affordable housing and welfare cuts.
"Many told me that they thought PMQs was too theatrical, that Parliament was out of touch and too theatrical and they wanted things done differently," Corbyn said about his PMQs debut earlier. Corbyn said the function of parliament was that "it should not be a club" and that he would try to "treat it with the respect it deserves."
"I want things to be different because I think the public as a whole have had enough of 'yah-boo sucks' politics, theatrical politics," he said on Wednesday.
Corbyn's first test as opposition chief
The veteran left-winger has been the MP for London's Islington North constituency since 1983, and a vocal backbencher throughout, but he had never been on a Labour "front bench" prior to becoming party leader.
Cameron, for his part, has debated against four different Labour leaders during his 10 years as Conservative leader.
The prime minister congratulated Corbyn on his landslide victory last weekend, saying he knew they would have "many strong disagreements," but that they should work together in the national interest when possible. He also said he would be delighted if the question session would become a more serious forum for posing and answering questions.
The 66-year-old drew a lot of negative media attention on Tuesday after refusing to sing the national anthem during a World War II memorial service. The "Sun" and "Daily Telegraph" papers ran headlines saying "Corbyn snubs the Queen," but the leader said he was maintaining a respectful silence.
mg/msh (AFP, AP, Reuters)