Relax

Over the last two weeks, Stroke Bloke has reported from Berlin and London on modern iterations of democracy. Today, a report from closer to home…

Last week’s post, Monarchy had a hint of the oracle about it. I asked

Can Angela [Eagle] fit 172 Labour Party MPs in her tiny battle bus before its square wheels fall off?

And that very night, the Labour Party’s National executive committee voted to allow Jeremy Corbyn, as the incumbent leader of the party,  to enter the party’s leadership election without having to collect the nominations of 50 of his MPs and MEPs.

But let’s leave that aside for now – who can predict British politics at the moment?

The other question that was left hanging at the end of last week’s post was

What happened when I had a chance to visit the Scottish Parliament at Holyrood…?

Need more whimsy and obscure ’90s indie references to getting through the working week? Check out the Apoplexy Tiny Letter.

Not so long ago, I visited Holyrood to attend a meeting of the writers’ group campaigning for freedom, Scottish PEN. This meeting marked the continued imprisonment of the Saudi blogger, Raif Badawi. It was being hosted in a committee room by Scottish PEN member and MSP, Mike Russell. I’d never been on the upper floors at Holyrood before, and it was notable how friendly the staff were, and how a number of MSPs had taken time out of their days to attend the meeting.

Look, I know criminal blogging, and that's not right
Having recently walked around Westminster in London, it was impossible not to be struck by the difference in the settings. The Catalan architect of the Scottish Parliament, Enric Miralles, had

talked about slotting the building into the land “in the form of a gathering situation: an amphitheatre, coming out from Arthur’s Seat” where the building would reflect a dialogue between the landscape and the act of people sitting.

Walking in the palm of Edinburgh, near my favourite spot at the top of Calton Hill, it did feel like the Parliament was accessible, and open to dialogue with the inhabitants of its country. It was a different feel to walking across Westminster Bridge only few days before.

The new Foreign Secretary makes his way to PMQs
“BORIS!!! YOU! ARE! GOING! THE! WRONG! WAY! YOU! BUFFOON!!!”

And inside, the debating chamber is arranged in a shallow horseshoe configuration. Such a layout is intended to blur political divisions and principally reflects the desire to encourage consensus amongst elected members. This contrasts with the configuration of the House of Commons, which I described last week as an arrangement of the benches of government… serried and arrayed against each other which encourages a Yah-boo-sucks! form of debate.

The extent to which that form of debate has been normalised is reflected in the way PM Wee Davey C’s departure from the fray was marked on BBC Radio and in the broadsheet newpapers as the loss of one of the great political performers of our time.

Maybe things will improve with a new Prime Minister in place. Or maybe she’s pressing on as I write with Davey C’s previously-planned debate on the renewal of these islands’ continuous at-sea nuclear deterrent. Tom Watson, Labour’s deputy leader, has just pointed out on The World at One that the debate is a post-referendum unity-building exercise for the Tories, and a trap for the Labour Party to blunder into.

Oh, well spotted, Mike.

Tom has spotted this trap with all the aplomb of blog hero, Wile E. Coyote
Frankie Says: Dinnae relax, ya choob

Theresa May has been making very clear in the run-up to the vote, that the world is an increasingly dangerous place. And she must be right – it’s less than two weeks ago, in the aftermath of publication of the Chilcot Report, that Tony Blair was talking at length about how the Iraq War was launch in the shadow of the attack on the World Trade Centre. And it was only last Friday that a long-classified congressional report was released that detailed possible ties between the country that continues to imprison Raif Badawi, and the 9/11 terrorist plot.

It’s a dangerous and confusing world, alright. Music next week, eh?

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2 thoughts on “Relax

  1. Speaking of political performers, that Trump entrance to the RNC was Theatre of the Absurd.

    To be fair, political theatrics is a bipartisan passion, but that was was some crazy, scary stuff.

    In other weird news, I just acquired Under the Skin a couple weeks ago. Haven’t had a chance to watch it yet.

    1. Yeah, that’s probably as good a reason as any for a change of course next week.

      In the meantime, I’m girding my loins to read this on Donald-Whaur’s-Yer-Policies.

      Will be interested to hear what you think of UtS…

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