Friday, 12 March 2021

Sardines and independence


There was a story yesterday which neatly illustrated the gap between the  scale of reform which is required if the unionists want to stand any chance at all of the UK surviving as a state and the reform which the English nationalists currently running the country are intellectually, ideologically, and emotionally capable of considering. According to the Telegraph, Jacob Rees-Mogg is proposing that, for two weeks every three years, the entire House of Commons (all 650 members) should cram itself into the debating chamber of the Senedd (designed for 60 members) to hold its debates. Although Cardiff is the home of Doctor Who, it was almost disappointing to discover that Jake is not depending on the Tardis-like qualities of the Senedd, which really isn’t bigger on the inside than it is on the outside. Apparently, the lack of space is not a problem because the 650 MPs are accustomed to debating in a chamber which can only hold around 427 people – they just remain standing during debates. Some might argue that there’s a difference between fitting 650 people into a space for two-thirds that number and fitting the same number into a space holding less than one-tenth of that number, but fortunately Jake’s school never taught him about this new-fangled concept called fractions. They probably hadn’t invented fire regulations either.

The master plan behind this scheme, it seems, is that holding two weeks’ worth of debates in Cardiff will bring parliament closer to the people, and demonstrate a commitment to the Union. Since the period proposed for this spectacle is the two weeks after the summer recess and before the break for party conferences, a period during which parliament traditionally debates little of great importance, the probability is that at least half of them wouldn’t turn up, which might go some way to solving the capacity problem. I struggle, though, to think of anything less likely to convince me of the value of the Union than only half the membership of the House of Commons bothering to travel to Cardiff to stand like sardines in a small room holding a debate about something inconsequential. I’m obviously not gifted with Jake’s immense perspicacity on that. Sadly for Jake, I suspect that I’m far from alone in that respect.

Demonstrating close-up the reality of how parliament works is the sort of revolutionary idea which might sound better coming from opponents of the Union rather than its supposed supporters, but if Jake wants to do the job for us, who am I to disagree? A parliament without enough seats for all its members is something which would embarrass most modern democracies, but for Jake and his pals, it’s a source of great pride. It does rather illustrate the point made by our own First Minister this week when he described the UK Government as a “recruiting sergeant” for Welsh and Scottish independence. It isn’t just the UK Government, though – it’s the whole of the UK structure and processes which are not fit for purpose in the twenty-first century but which are incapable of reforming themselves, because they’re proud of being hopelessly outdated and see it as a strength rather than a weakness. And despite Drakeford’s own ability to see the need for change, what he still seems unable to see or understand is that the English Labour Party is part of the problem, not the solution.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Is this the same Rees Mogg who last year insisted all MPs should come back to the HoC?