Monday, 22 February 2010

The English Parliament

I have a book called The English Parliament written by Kenneth Mackenzie. It is a rather unimposing volume, does not really catch the readers eye at all to be quite frank. It asks nothing beyond itself save for occasionally being read. I picked it up for £1 at a flea market down south. It is quite a remarkable little volume for it tells us how parliament was like when the concept of 'honour' was still omnipresent in the hearts and minds of the people who lived to serve the people. It was a different time, but not so long ago it was first published in 1950 and since then the UK has gone through more change than ever before in its 300 year history - England even more so in its nearly 10 century long history. As English Common Law is being slowly replaced by Corpus Juris Civilis (New Labour presided over the first trial in the history of the UK and England in which there was no jury present) so too is the honour once related to public life.

I would like to quote from the opening paragraph of this immense little omnibus, for it is quite fantastic and I have highlighted the parts which I find truly amazing. Amazing since that same scenario could never ever happen today...
I doubt that the most important thing was Dunkirk or the Battle of Britain, El Alamein of Stalingrad. Not even the landings in Normandy or the great blows struck by British and American bombers. Historians ma decide that any one of these events was decisive, but I am persuaded that the most important thing that happened in Britain was that this nation chose to win or lose this was under the established rules of parliamentary procedure. It feared Nazism, but did not choose to imitate it. The government was given dictatorial power, but it was used with restraint, and the House of Commons was ever vigilant. Do you remember that while London was being bombed in the daylight, the House devoted two days to discussing conditions under which the enemy aliens were detained on the Isle of Man? Though Britain fell, there were to be no concentration camps here.

Edward R. Murrow
Things are different now. Things are very different now as you all know. I sometimes get accused of ranting too much about things, by people on this blog and people in real life. That I should just chill out and just go with the flow. I am not certain what constitutes a rant and what passes for relevant referenced critique. It seems that when people cannot stand hearing the truth they accuse the man with the torch of having a rant. Do not worry I am not so full of myself that I propose that I am always the light bearer, I am wrong sometimes too but more than often people and the media criticise people for putting forth issues -real issues- which 50 years ago would have rendered you at least a few pairs of ears, willing to hear what you have to say. Things are different now.

It is the same with parliament. It has no purposes anymore, it is no better than all the parliaments which were spawned from its image. It certainly is not the mother of all parliaments anymore. It is nothing, save for a handful of people who sit in its old chambers, and the rest are nothing either. They have no interest in serving their people.

Daniel Hannan likes to talk about hubris, catharsis and nemesis. Well lets expand upon that then. A true tragic hero needs to have six key qualities. These are hamartia, hubris, anagnorisis, peripeteia, nemesis and catharsis. Hamartia is a tragic flaw that causes the downfall of the tragic hero. This tragic flaw is often the result of hubris which is extreme pride. Anagnorisis is a recognition or discovery made by the tragic hero. In other word the tragic hero will learn a lesson, usually as a result of his downfall. Peripeteia is a reversal of fortune, the downfall of the tragic hero. Nemesis is a fate that cannot be escaped. Catharsis is a feeling of overwhelming pity and/or fear that the audience of reader is left with after witnessing the downfall of a tragic hero.

I think we need to muster something else a bit more substantial than latin platitudes, if we are ever going to restore parliament to what it was. I am not sure what happened along the way. Somewhere this insatiable urge for sloth and power gluttony swooped over our MPs over these years since 1945 - for the sake of having a beginning. I believe firmly in the principles of responsibility. Logic suggests that if you remove a man's responsibility he will, ergo, be irresponsible not of his own making but that is simple the only logical outcome. We fall so that we can pick ourselves up and learn from our mistakes. We make mistakes because we should so that we understand as people what is wrong. Parliament has no responsibility anymore -it has been outsourced- and it is not allowed to make any mistakes for then the press are on it like vultures on a caracas. The legislative keeps the executive in check and the media keep both in check. But something has gone wrong along the way.

It is not only that the government sets parliament agenda it is everything. The parliamentary paradigms have been completely replaced with anachronisms. I say anachronisms for the principles which previously guided parliament were timeless; honour, responsibility, country before party and family before party, truth, justice etcetera. These values are nowhere to be seen today. You can blame the EU, regional governments, judges, quangos, the UN, the socialists or what have you. But then you consider other countries which still have their parliament intact and they still appear to want to serve the people. What happened to us?

I do not understand. I was brought up to believe that the greatest good you could do was to help your fellow man. But today our MPs, almost willingly, almost wantonly, go behind our backs and make deals with their friends in the same high echelons, where we are left to pick up the pieces of a policy that never should have passed further than the MP's lips. Where before it would have been struck down the moment it flouted the halls of Westminster. Where the shards are the only things that remain of a country that once withstood all outer influence and set its own agenda, an agenda for and with the people.


James Higham said...

Such a pity you have no search facility. I'm looking for your statements on the EU but can't access them. I have your graph and quote from the sidebar.

13th Spitfire said...

ohh just go to the 'EU and UK' tab on the top of the page.

James Higham said...

OK. This Corpus Juris is a worry.