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  • Lawrence Bailey

Speaking out over democracy

It’s a slightly bizarre situation whereby the Speaker of the House of Commons delivers a speech at the Edinburgh Fringe in defence of parliamentary democracy.

Then again, ‘bizarre’ has become the new norm in British politics.

John Bercow stated he will fight "with every bone in my body" any attempts by Boris Johnson to shut down parliament and force through a no-deal Brexit.

Admittedly, we only have unattributable chatter from ‘insiders’ that the Johnson camp is looking to schedule a Queen's speech to mark the start of a new parliamentary session in early November.

The convention is that parliament is prorogued (put on hold) around a fortnight ahead of a Queen's speech. This would prevent MPs from stopping a no-deal Brexit immediately before October 31

When news of the so-called ‘plan’ broke in mid-July, it sparked all sorts of angry reaction. Since then a device has been voted through which requires the House to convene to pass a particular measure.

None of this has stopped a resolute Mr Speaker from proclaiming he would block attempts to close the Commons whatever the pretext.

"We cannot have a situation in which parliament is shut down - we are a democratic society and parliament will be heard", he is reported as saying.

It’s heavily rumoured that a cross-party body of MPs are seeking to stop a no-deal divorce plan. The idea is to either trigger a vote of no confidence and thereby oust Johnson or else wrest control of Commons procedure, as happened earlier in the year.

Yet there are a few who insist the new prime minister is deliberately steering his way towards just such a confrontation.

An impasse of this kind, goes the speculation, would be good reason for going to the country via a general election to gain an outright mandate from leavers.

As you may recall, this is more or less the same course of action taken by his predecessor, Theresa May. It ended badly.

So it remains to be seen if we’re going to see a validation of socialist thinker Karl Marx who once stated “history repeats itself, first as tragedy, then as farce".

Either way, it may be time to bring on the clowns.


We’ve come so far only to lose ourselves

I found myself a bit conflicted the other day. I was helping to load packed lunches supplied by the Village Hotel SA1 for the Kids Lunch Clubs campaign, organised by Swansea East MP Carolyn Harris.

While I think this a great initiative, another part of me is angry that we’re actually having to supplement family budgets through charity in the 21st century.

I look at our achievements in things like technology and yet despair at how much we’ve lost in terms of basic human compassion. People are dying in poverty and indignity because an unfeeling welfare system denies them basic support. Care is rationed or provided in exchange for personal savings.

What the hell happened to us? People campaigned and fought in the streets for basic human rights and a decent standard of living. Now we’ve reached the stage where foodbank baskets are an accepted feature at the supermarket checkout.

We seem to have come so far, only have lost ourselves.

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