BERCOW MAY BARK….BUT WHERE IS HIS BITE?
I’ve just been looking at today’s Westminster PMQs, because the media word I keep on seeing about the weekly bunfight as I scan the day’s events (I’ve been busy in the real world all day) is ‘ugly’.
It’s as good a word as one could choose under the circumstances, because there is no sight more ugly than a bully in full flight. And that was Cameron today: full-on School Bully Flashman, beating the crap out of Corbyn Major of the Fourth Remove.
I have less and less time for Jeremy Corbyn as time goes on, but the thing one needs to grasp about Cameldung is that – when it comes to the British Constitution – he is an insouciant vandal, pummelling the purpose of PMQs to death with the same sort of baseball bat applied to the Greek head in recent years.
Spookily, I was surprised to then find this MSM analysis chiming with mine:
The Guardian? The Independent? The Mirror? Wrong: The Daily Telegraph.
The idea of the weekly exchange is that the Oppo leader gets six goes at holding Power to account, and the PM in power has to give said Oppo leader answers that might satisfy a prosecuting counsel in an important case…where the jury is the British legislature. A case, for example, of murder.
Based on today’s PMQs, the Prime Minister just got away with murder.
As one might expect, the Telegraph blames the Labour leader for Cameron’s escape – but that really is moving the goalposts without prior notice. Jeremy Corbyn is constitutionally entitled to an answer….not the twisting of every question to point-scoring by the PM. That, dear reader, is Power refusing to accept accountability.
This is a shot of David Cameron doing just that today:
I wonder: is there an open-minded, reasonable Brit anywhere in the World who finds that study attractive? I doubt it.
Descriptions of the British Prime Minister above might include visceral, nasty, superior, yelling, and yes….ugly.
Is there any one person to blame for this gross abuse of procedure? Overall, no: but in the immediate term, yes: the Speaker and arch-pompous pillock John Bercow.
It is well within the Speaker’s remit (given the brazen question-evasion of Dodgy Dave today) for him to have intervened on all six occasions, and stated the following:
“Order, order….the Prime Minister must answer the Opposition leader’s question.”
Constitutionally, either PMQs is about the First Among Equals giving substantive answers to questions of which he has had ample notice, or it isn’t. The problem we have is that it very clearly isn’t: David Cameron is become the Orwellian Pig, telling us all pigs are equal – but some are more equal than others. As with his ridiculous side-by-side assertion of three years ago that he “wants a level playing field”, but “has no problem with people being given a leg up”, the Prime Minister is once again asserting his right to play games with a distracted and uninformed electorate.
The Speaker is there to stop him and others of similar ilk from doing that. Bercow is falling short in his key role – as set out by Bagehot – of defending the democratic legislature against the untrammelled power of the Executive. Either he must raise his game and rise to the historical occasion; or John Bercow should be told, “In the name of God, go”.