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Agreeing with Caroline Lucas for a change

December 1st, 2010 · Posted by Skuds in Politics · 4 Comments · Politics

Her idea for job-sharing MPs may have been one of the silliest and least practical suggestions ever, and I was fairly scathing about it at the time, but I have to admit that a lot of Caroline Lucas’ latest brainwave does make sense to me.

Some of the things she is suggesting are things I have been wanting to see in parliament for a long time, like more normal hours and an end to some of the archaisms.  Why, for example can an MP not just say “I resign” instead of applying for the Office of Steward or Bailiff of Her Majesty’s Three Chiltern Hundreds of Stoke, Desborough and Burnham in the County of Buckingham?

Electronic voting makes sense too, even if the use of MPs’ salaries as a justification is a bit weak.  Just the fact that it is better should be reason enough – or that the time saved would make it easier to finish business earlier in the day.  Even better – only allow MPs who have listened to a debate vote on it.   Perhaps that would lead to MPs participating rather than just turning up as lobby fodder when the division bell goes in order to vote whichever way they have been told to.

Of course, it is unlikely that anything will change.  I’m sure that critics will say that such suggestions are just change for the sake of change (and what is wrong with that?  Surely Westminster is one place of which nobody would have the nerve to say that if it ain’t broke don’t fix it.)

I’m afraid she will be a lone voice for change because she is up against a huge sentiment of keeping things the same for the sake of keeping things the same, all in the name of tradition.

Still.  It is one voice now, but in five years it might be a handful, and in ten years a small bloc and perhaps in 150 years we will see small changes like allowing the staff to wear a slightly different colour tights.  It must be very frustrating.


4 Comments so far ↓

  • Danivon

    Didn’t they go over to more normal hours after 1997, and then go back again when the old hands complained (probably about having to see their families-)?

    • Skuds

      Yes they did that. It enabled MPs living in places like Crawley to stay at home and commute with no need for a second home.

      I suspect that a lot of them rather liked having an excuse to have a second home and so it soon got reversed.

  • Andrew

    I didn’t know about the “Office of Steward or Bailiff of Her Majesty’s Three Chiltern Hundreds of Stoke, Desborough and Burnham in the County of Buckingham”. I am going to go bang my head into a wall for a while.

    • Skuds

      You wouldn’t even be able to do that as an MP without a permit from Black Rod, hand-writen on parchment and carrying the seal of the masonry equerry.

      Parliament is just like any cult or church – wrap everything up in arcane rituals and assimilate newcomers into it as far and as quickly as possible. I think very few MPs do not ‘go native’ to a greater or lesser extent.