I can rarely recall a weaker Parliament than this one. Parliament is our check on the Executive, the voice of the nation's conscience, and a strong and self-confident Parliament is a healthy one. A strong Parliament and a strong government is the finest of combinations; not comfortable for the central Statist party organisations, for a strong Parliament consists of independent minded members, but good for the country.
A weak Parliament with a strong government, or a strong Parliament with a weak government, makes bad laws and poor decisions. Right now we have a weak government and a weak Parliament, and with a Speaker who has become the embarrassment of the nation. Labour must bear much of the blame for this. Blair was never a Parliamentarian, being more at home in make-up and TV studio lights. Brown is a thug and bully whose every move has been to weaken and emasculate the Commons. They gave us Michael Martin, a crude Gorbals trougher with little feeling for the potential of the House but with an agenda to encourage individual MPs to take the opportunity of their time in Parliament to enrich themselves.
Philip Johnston, writing in the Telegraph this morning, says much of what I wrote yesterday. He lays the blame at the new breed of 'professional' politician lacking integrity, honour or virtue. I agree. And without the integrity of members, Parliament itself has lost its dignity.
Whilst there is a delicious schadenfreude in watching the painful public embarrassment of so many pompous, conceited and narcissistic politicians, this is actually damaging to us all. The current incumbents of the House can never redeem themselves - only their successors can do that. But they can act now to remove the Speaker, who personifies all the sleaze, corruption, weakness and incompetence that taints this Parliament.
In the past Parliaments earned themselves memorable descriptors; the Rump Parliament, the Mad Parliament, the Long Parliament, the Short Parliament and so on*. There is only one descriptor for the House now sitting; the Rotten Parliament.
*Also the Good Parliament, the Bad Parliament, the Model Parliament, the Wonderful Parliament, the Merciless Parliament, the Convention Parliament, the Unlearned Parliament, the Fire and Faggot Parliament (of 1413), the Parliament of Bats, the Parliament of Devils, the Barebones Parliament, the Convention Parliament II and the Loyal Parliament. But never, until now, the Rotten Parliament.