Wednesday, 19 January 2011
Yesterday morning I woke early - around 5.30am I think - and noticed a tweet from Mike Smithson about filibustering. Curious to see the current situation I linked to Democracy Live to find a Labour baroness repeatedly telling her disinterested audience she had visited her old constituency every weekend yet nobody knew she was there, followed by a Scottish Baroness giving the few people present a history lesson about previous incumbents in her constituency, interspersed with a tale about cannibals and other more than strange anecdotes.
None of this was related to their discussion of the voting reform legislation of course, but an attempt to talk out the Bill.
The first record of filibustering was when Cato the Younger at least twice tried to frustrate the political objectives of Julius Caesar. Watching this briefly in the early morning made me think politics hasn't much changed.
Surely there must be a more democratic and modern method that this expensive theatre. In some ways I sympathise with Labour's desire for the Bill to be split into a Parliamentary Voting System Bill and a Constituencies Bill, but when you discover that hired beds were made available, the Bishops' Bar was open all night and entertainment was accessible and all paid for by us, it's insulting to the general electorate. By all accounts it was more like an all night party than a serious political debate.
The constituencies part of the Bill suggests reducing the number of MPs. Surely it can't be the consequential redrawing of boundaries which upsets them?
A reduction in MPs is long past time and next on the cards should be a Bill proposing a similar reduction in the House of Lords. Both houses in Westminster require modernised with these affectatious titles top of the list. The Scottish Parliament has etiquette towards colleagues about right.