Cover punch and judy politics pb

Prime Minister’s Questions is the bear pit of British politics, a unique way of holding the powerful to account. While it is watched and admired around the world, it is often hated at home for bringing out the worst in our politicians. However, despite the best attempts of successive party leaders to try and move away from ‘Punch and Judy politics’, PMQs are here to stay. It sets the agenda, indicates who’s up and who's down and, most importantly, defines Prime Ministers and Leaders of the Opposition.

Ayesha Hazarika and Tom Hamilton spent every Wednesday morning for five years preparing Ed Miliband for combat ahead of PMQs, with varying degrees of success. They know what it’s like to prepare a leader for the most stressful, unforgiving moment of the political week and they have lived through the drama, tension and black humour that goes with being in the room. They have seen the highs when a leader wins at the Dispatch Box as well as – perhaps more often – the lows when they take a beating.

This book lifts the lid on PMQs, reveals the tricks of the trade from leading politicians and the people who prepared them, and takes you behind the scenes of some of the biggest PMQs moments. Part history, part inside account, this book is an entertaining and honest guide to one of the most loved, feared and loathed features of British politics by two people who know just how tough it can be.


All the fireworks and the fear of PMQs from two people who’ve seen it from the inside, with unique insights from PMQs survivors – those who’ve done it and lived to tell the tale, from both sides of the Commons. This book captures both the importance and the quirkiness of the biggest event of the parliamentary week. Reading it sent shivers down my spine, taking me back to the thrill and terror that is PMQs.

Harriet Harman

First-rate […] a remarkably shrewd, well-argued and plausible assessment of what works and doesn’t work at this key encounter.

Andrew Sparrow, The Guardian


John Rentoul

It’s a zippy, insightful read, helped immeasurably by contributions from the likes of David Cameron, Tony Blair, William Hague and Ed Miliband, the former Labour leader with whom both Hamilton and Hazarika worked during the coalition years. Hamilton and Hazarika make a good case for the enduring importance of PMQs in keeping the Government (relatively) honest.


An invaluable study by Ayesha Hazarika and Tom Hamilton of the Wednesday PM quizzing tells of arrogance, fear and astonishing preparation.

Emily Thornberry, MP Shadow Foreign Secretary

One of the best books on politics to be published this year!

Total Politics

A joy. […] For those wanting an insight into how politics works behind the scenes, Hazarika and Hamilton definitely oblige.

Progress Magazine

A splendid insider account of the regular punch-up that is Prime Minister's Questions, packed with entertaining anecdotes.

The Telegraph, Best Books of 2018

This is a really brilliant and interesting insight into a bit of politics that I think most people in Britain immediately recognise. It really illuminates not just that famous half hour of politics, but so much about why political parties make the decisions they do, and political strategy more generally. If you want to read one book to really get your head around how political parties work and plan, it would be Punch and Judy Politics.

Stephen Bush’s ‘Best Politics Books of 2018’, 5 Books

Westminster junkies would be happy if their stockings were filled with a copy of Tom Hamilton and Ayesha Hazarika’s Punch & Judy Politics, a juicy insider account of what happens behind the scenes in prime minister’s questions.

The Guardian, Best Book of 2018

That rare thing: a genuinely informative, funny and original book on politics, which takes something you vaguely thought you knew all about – Prime Minister’s Questions – and makes you look at it freshly. Hamilton and Hazarika combine a serious, rigorous analysis of tactics, strategies and outcomes across modern political history with excellent gossip and some hilarious personal recollections of life on the front line.

Andrew Marr

A fair, thorough and enjoyable study of the art and science of Prime Minister’s Questions. For those of us who have been participants, it brings back memories of dramatic moments we lived through; for observers, it reveals the techniques and tensions behind the duelling of political leaders. Well worth reading by anyone who wants to understand the workings of parliamentary democracy.

William Hague
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  • Hardback, 352 pages
  • ISBN: 9781785901843
  • 17 May 2018
  • Signed by author!
  • £20.00

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  • ISBN: 9781785904882
  • 4 April 2019
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  • 17 May 2018
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