We need a Parliament of rebels, and we need it now.
The political class of this country are like the passengers of a Russian sled, hissing late at night through the moonlit forest. The ponies are exhausted, and behind them the wolves are in full cry.
One by one the leaders of all parties are hurling their colleagues over the back, in the hope of placating the ravening pack. Tory grandees, Labour Cabinet ministers – no one is safe. Now, in an act of political brutality not seen for 300 years, the terrified MPs have turned on Mr Speaker himself, and with a fearful Glaswegian oath the substantial form of Michael Martin has thudded into the snow.
I have lost count of the number of times I have sat through debates, after which my colleagues have begun their speeches with the words, “This has been an excellent debate”, and I have wanted to shout, “No! It hasn’t been remotely excellent.
“It has been a collection of cut-and-paste Lego-brick speeches in which people have been speaking not from the heart or direct knowledge of the issue, but because the whips have suggested it would be a good idea to speak.”
If we had fewer MPs, and they were forced to concentrate on what they were actually doing, we would have much less legislation, and I can’t think of a better way of saving us all time, trouble and money.
[The full article can be seen as first printed in the Daily Telegraph on 25 May 2009]