The Futility Monster

He'll pointlessly derive more enjoyment out of your resources than you

Might As Well Go To Richer Sounds

Posted by The Futility Monster on June 20, 2009 @ 10:58

There is much wailing and lamenting in the British blogosphere about how the current Speaker has presided over a terrible system which has left MPs forced to claim hundreds of thousands of pounds against their will because the rules required them to.

Seems like we need a new one of these

Seems like we need a new one of these

So much weeping. So much newsprint.

So little point.

The consequence: on Monday, the House of Commons will choose its new Speaker. Michael Martin, the incumbent for one more day, will jet off into the sunset and land somewhere in the House of Lords shortly after to claim his per diem attendance allowance. Don’t you worry – that trougher ain’t going nowhere.

Because, yes – Michael Martin does have to carry the can to a limited extent, and certainly his own expenses claims are rather dubious. But really, what could he have done about it? “Convention” didn’t allow him to speak out publicly. The hands of the Speaker are tied by centuries of traditions and dusty references to Erskine May and Standing Orders.

But Mr Speaker did not write any of those.

And the new Mr/Madam Speaker is going to be bound by all the same rubbish.

Changing the Speaker is not going to reform Parliament. Reform of Parliament can only come about if enough MPs vote to change the procedures.

In other words, it will take a concerted effort to bring about the necessary reforms that all the candidates are arguing for.

Is that likely to happen? To a limited extent, I expect we will be thrown some token gestures by our political class. Maybe they’ll allow petitions to be debated by a petition committee, instead of now when an MP can present them on the floor of the House for a few seconds, and then they disappear into the ether, until the government responds in writing that actually all is fine and dandy, thank you very much.

In other words, the more things change, the more they stay the same.

Because the fundamental principle is that in the UK, the role of Parliament is to deliver the government’s majority to get its business through. Everything else is just window-dressing. As we saw, when MPs discovered they don’t even have the right to put a motion for debate to the House. Why would the government want to do anything to jeopardise it? And more to the point, why would the Opposition want to make their job after the next election more difficult?

Basically – will there be enough independent-minded backbenchers, who aren’t interested in satisfying their party leadership, to do anything about it?

No. Instead, they seem to think that electing a new Speaker will do the job for them. Hey, look we might put Anne Widdecombe in the Chair! Ain’t that a pretty sight! Talk about change for the better! That oughta keep you suckers placated for a while, eh.

They’re in for a shock. Cos we expect more from them than a gesture of a new Speaker. Because it really doesn’t matter who wins on Monday. They are just a small cog in the huge machinery of government.

Enough MPs have to have the bottle to completely rebuild the way Parliament works from the ground up.

Can’t see it myself.


One Response to “Might As Well Go To Richer Sounds”

  1. […] Might As Well Go To Richer Sounds […]

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