For political geeks, summer is tedious. The Canadian House of Commons adjourned for the summer recess back in June, and they won’t be back until 19 September. Luckily, we still had the UK House of Commons sitting into July, but alas, they too adjourned on 20 July. UK MPs will be taking a shorter break than their Canadian counterparts – they’ll be returning to work on 5 September.
However, this still leaves us with six weeks of political void. No debates. No bills to ponder. No Oral Questions to entertain us. It’s enough to make one consider watching archived committee hearings of the Communities and Local Government Committee as they conducted an inquiry into the audit and inspection of local authorities.
Fear not, my political geek friends – someone has come to our rescue. It is with great delight that I share with you Prime Minister’s Questions – The Game.
This was brought to my attention curtesy of the kind souls at Rock, Paper, Shotgun. John Walker provided this entertaining review of the game, and at the end, there is the link to download the zip file. The game is free, simple to install and play, and quite endearing. It features real sound clips of UK House of Commons Speaker John Bercow calling everyone to order. You play as Prime Minister David Cameron, deciding how best to reply to the questions put to you by Opposition Leader Ed Miliband. Occasionally, you might also get a question from a backbencher. As Walker notes in his review:
It’s rather clearly a satire on the complete pantomime of PMQ, and its inherent pointlessness since the purpose of the event is for no one to actually answer anyone’s questions at any point. So it is for each question from Ed Milliband, you as David Cameron are required to pick the answer from a list that best sort-of-fits the question asked. None of which actually answer it, of course. Should you not have a question to match you can always try a special move, such as blaming it all on the previous Labour government.
A matching answer is one that in some way loosely references the question without answering it, while ideally insulting the opposition or boasting of your own party’s superiority.
The game’s developer, Mark Richards states in the comments section that:
There is one unique question-answer routine you can do in the game that causes a little upset and Mr. Bercow has to tell them all: “The public don’t like it. And neither do I.”
Anyone who follows UK politics regularly knows that this has become Speaker Bercow’s catchphrase.
I have played through the game a few times now, but haven’t managed to cause said upset. So for all of you out there suffering from PMQ/Oral Questions/Parliamentary Politics withdrawal during the ho-hum days of summer, you now have something to help you survive the next few weeks.