Wednesday, 3 June 2020

Searching for a rational explanation

It could, of course, be the case that reducing the self-styled ‘mother of parliaments’ to complete farce is an accidental by-product of the madness of the author of the new system of voting. Clinical insanity is certainly the simplest and most obvious explanation of the thought process which would lead anyone to conclude that the most suitable way of voting in any parliament is one which excludes many MPs completely and requires the rest to spend 45 minutes shuffling along a 1km long queue every time they hold a vote. And Rees-Mogg certainly looks less than 100% compos as well as having a history of expressing strange views. The problem with that explanation is that it doesn’t explain why a majority of those taking part in the farce concluded that it was, indeed, such a brilliant idea that it should become the new norm. There could be something in the water in Westminster – but if that were to be the explanation, the Tory MPs would need to be imbibing from a different water supply than that used by members of other parties. Some of them, of course, just do whatever they’re told, either because they’re part of the government or because they want to be, but they surely can’t all be blind to the sheer idiocy of what they’ve agreed. I know that they wanted the UK to become a ‘world leader’ but I assumed they meant in terms of respect not mockery and derision.
There is however an alternative and much more sinister possibility. Deliberately excluding some members from participation in decision-taking might suit the government rather well on the whole, particularly if it differentially affects its political opponents. Excluding those MPs from Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland who choose to abide by the advice of their respective governments instead of returning to London would certainly have the not insignificant side-effect of boosting the Tory majority. At a time when the PM’s actions over Cummings are causing huge disquiet on his own side, reducing the opportunities for a combination of opposition MPs and disgruntled Tories to conspire against him could be quite handy. And the derision with which the rest of the world views the system, coupled with the reluctance of MPs to be seen participating in such a farce might help in another way as well: it could make MPs less keen to call for divisions at all. If they know not only that every vote is going to cost them valuable time, but also that they’re all going to look like complete fools every time a vote is held, that might just encourage some to call for votes less frequently. (Although that could backfire if the public blamed the government rather than those calling for votes.)
It’s certainly a negation of democracy, but whether that’s due to a serious outbreak of madness in the governing party or a deliberate action to avoid scrutiny and challenge is open to interpretation. As a rule, I always tend to favour the simpler explanation, but there is something of a pattern to the avoidance of scrutiny and debate in the case of the current PM.

1 comment:

dafis said...

JRM is a well educated guy possessing a certain type of intelligence yet he is a complete and utter fruitcake. What used to be a bit of a novelty, a mild occasionally more seriously eccentric cove has morphed into an absolute basket case. Sadly it looks like he could be around for a while unless Covid sweeps through that front bench and bumps a few off !.