Thursday, 26 September 2019
Yesterday in Parliament
You would think that, on the first day of its historic unrevokedness the debates in the House of Commons would be statesmanlike and of lofty constitutional erudition. Instead, by all accounts, it was a day of rudeness, squabbling and name-calling such as would disgrace a school playground.
By accident or design, MPs have succeeded in changing the reporting of the debate from one of high constitutional significance to to one of scorn for and condemnation of politicians.
On Newsnight last night Labour MP Barry Gardiner claimed that Mr Johnson's inflammatory language was deliberate and designed indeed to "change the subject" from the embarrassing failure of the government's policies to "the general state of politics." A presumably impartial commenter on this morning's Radio 4 Today programme took a similar view - that the government front bench were "deliberately provoking the opposition to change the debate."
I suspect this is not chance but that the hand of Dominic Cummings lies behind it.
Another ploy seems to be to discredit the present House of Commons. The Attorney General Geoffrey Cox, instead of explaining the reasoning that led him to advise that the prorogation of parliament was legitimate, instead scorned the parliament as "dead" and "without legitimacy."
This is nonsense. This parliament was "refreshed by contact with the electorate" only two years ago and is less than halfway through its term. The election that formed it was called by the Conservatives for their own ends. Hard lines on them that things didn't work out as they expected, but they must live with the results of their own folly.
The Opposition parties are right in their refusal to let the Tories off the hook by calling another election (which would in all probability produce yet another Commons in which no party had a majority).
Instead it is the duty of this Parliament to disentangle the Brexit knot by "quiet calm deliberation." (Gilbert and Sullivan got so much right even 100+ years ago).
How about this for reasoning?
1. The overwhelming majority on all sides recognise that to leave the EU with no deal would be highly damaging, and in any case parliament has already declared it to be illegal.
2. We could possibly leave on a minor variation of Mrs May's deal, but that has ben rejected three times, so is really a non-starter.
3. We could follow Labour's present official course, which would be, after an election, to negotiate a better deal. It is unlikely, though not impossible, that Labour could win enough seats to form a minority government and achieve this, but their published aims include remaining in the single market and customs union - otherwise known as Brexit in name only, or BINO. That is, leaving the EU but still obeying most of the rules without having any say in making them, so what's the point?
4. So the best thing to do is to Revoke Article 50 and stay in the EU.
5. To calm any resulting agitation this should be accompanied by a sympathetic and reasoned explanation as to why it is sensible and democratic to set aside the result of the referendum, along with concrete and calculated proposals to ease the factors (unnecessary government austerity, punishing of the poor, neglect of the regions etc) which have lead to the discontent which lay behind the Brexit vote.