Parliamentary Language and Behaviour
Westminster has long had a reputation for bad behaviour both in and out the chamber from MPs. This stems from outdated and sexist behaviour built up over time. Real steps are now being taken to try and stamp out bullying and sexual harassment. Yet, I still witness surprising behaviours. Clair Perry, Energy Minister was not happy at the way a Labour MP was behaving so she asked “does the Honourable Member want me to go down on my knees for him?” I hope I am not too prudish but it seemed to me to be an extraordinary thing to say at the dispatch box. Later in the session she claimed the Labour MP, Clive Lewis had been blowing kisses and winking at her. If he was then that seems a mix of childish, sexist and old fashioned behaviour. Making a sexual reference back at him might be her way of confronting sexism head on, but really?
Similarly, the Leader of the House, Andrea Leadsom has an ongoing feud with the Speaker, intensified by his ruling that the Government cannot represent the same meaningful vote. It means that from the front bench she makes really cheeky remarks, intended solely to provoke and no other purpose. If we are to believe we are all “honourable members” who respect each other, then it is contradictory for someone with the position of Leader of the House to act in such a manner. I hope with heightened parliamentary tensions, matters don’t get any worse.
On a similar theme, the PM’s statement intended to pit the public against Parliament didn’t help. The whole choreography of the day was a joke – firstly she wrote a letter to the EU about extending Article 50 for a limited period, ignoring some of the scenarios she had set out in parliament, without updating Parliament and MPs finding out about her letter via the media. Then she addresses “the people” instead of Parliament and used language solely designed to whip up hostilities. It’s further evidence that rather than be collegiate, she is working on a combination of bullying and just wearing people down. Being resolute is one thing, being blindly dogmatic is something else.
And Another Thing
In the PM statement she said people are fed up about politicians talking about Brexit and that they would rather talk about the NHS and knife crime [in England]. It is like she doesn’t realise that the Tories have had control of the English NHS for almost 9 years. Or that is was the Tories who for 9 years have been cutting the English and Welsh police numbers. Or in Scotland’s case, the Tories vindictively made the Scottish Police and Fire services pay £175m VAT. It is like she forgets she is the one in charge!
As the crisis builds, the SNP called for Parliament to be sitting the weekend following the EU council and also for the so called Brexit date. It is astonishing that the UK Government have resisted so far. I would rather not be in London, but needs must, and the Government dogma is hard to fathom.