Route to a Better Democracy 2 – Let Parliament Crumble



Part two of a series “Route to a Better Democracy” where the DWP examines the case for replacing the Palace of Westminster.

Speaker John Bercow has said parliament will have to be abandoned within twenty years  unless serious renovations are made. £3bn must be spent to make the building safe and inhabitable. Heating, water, draining and electrical systems in the 19th century building are described as “extremely antiquated.” It seems parliamentary procedures and practices are, for some reason, left off this list. Rather than spend £3bn on renovation, the money would be better spent by abandoning the old and embracing the new; in the name of democracy.

Parliament has the appearance and atmosphere of a colonial gentleman’s club. Prime Minister’s Questions resembles a playground slagging match; the only thing missing is cants of “fight, fight, fight!” Women are disproportionately filled with revulsion at parliament, and no wonder considering the arrival of “Blair’s Babes” was met with cries of MELLONS.

The hypocrisy of MPs referring to other members as Honourable or Right Honourable , while obviously despising each other only serves to make people think parliament has nothing to do with them. It creates distance between those who rule and those who govern.

The pomp and ceremony of the Black Rod and the state opening of parliament look ridiculous when compared to the lives of people in the poorest regions of the country. Which brings me to the fact that the rules and regulations of parliament have no bearing on the lives of the people of the UK. This serves to make MPs an insular bunch who have no concept of what life is like outside of the Westminster bubble.

A new Parliament

Let the palace of Westminster turn to rubble, and be left as monument to the folly of the past. With £3bn a new parliament could be built away from London, in a more central position. In one stroke the institution would be more relevant to those outside of Greater London.

The new parliament should be built in a horseshoe shape, a subtle nudge away from adversarial politics and towards compromise. This move could encourage more women to get into politics.

The weekly Prime Minister dodges the question time should be abolished, it’s simply embarrassing. MPs heckling and jeering should be hulled out of parliament and summarily executed suspended without pay.

Voting by physically walking into a room is abhorrent, open to gross abuses of power from the executive. Votes should be conducted electronically, as they are in the European Parliament.

A modern building should be built to foster a new way of doing government. We should not be looking to the past and an institution that only outlawed marital rape in 1991 for governance. We should look to the future and a new parliament that is fit to govern in the modern age.



One thought on “Route to a Better Democracy 2 – Let Parliament Crumble

  1. What should be done with the old Palace of Westminster is to turn it into a historical monument and tourist attraction. It could be partly sold off to the National Trust, English Heritage or whoever and they can be responsible for funding the cost of the renovations as opposed to the taxpayer. Charging admission and perhaps hiring out the old committee rooms as conference facilities- and perhaps the old Houses as occasional film sets- might make it pay its own way. That way, you bring the institution into the 21st century and have it better representing modern Britain whilst still recognizing that history has a place and a value. Besides, it’s still quite an impressive building when you go inside. I’d sooner it not go to waste entirely.

    I agree that the new Parliament- and the rest of government should follow suit- should be in a central location outside of London, and dispense with a lot of the sillier traditions that encumber it. I don’t think we should be too prescriptive in what it looks like at that stage- electronic voting is certainly a good idea, abandoning PMQs rather than simply enacting steps to prevent them becoming the farce they are, maybe not. At least it gives Parliament a chance to actually directly hold the executive to account, and perhaps make BBC Parliament not entirely the most boring channel on TV for those less inclined to sit through political debates.

    Maybe we could also reconsider the House of Lords or at least its makeup whilst we’re at it. No more heriditary peers and fewer kicked-upstairs old politicos, but a truly meritocractic institution, is what I’d like- perhaps with some democratic input. Or failing that a fully-elected second chamber.


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