What forces are being unleashed as the Commons’ culture is increasingly ‘toxic’ ?
Many watching Prime Minister’s Questions will agree that if teenage pupils behaved as badly as do many MPs, they’d be excluded.
Though not located in the chamber, this cartoon reflects the tone of our politics
After Mr Johnson claimed the best way to honour Ms Cox would be to get Brexit done, Widower Brendan Cox said: ‘Feel a bit sick at Jo’s name being used in this way”:
‘The best way to honour Jo is for all of us (no matter our views) to stand up for what we believe in, passionately and with determination. But never to demonise the other side and always hold onto what we have in common . . . all inflammatory language should be avoided on both sides of the debate’. An hour later he added:
To his credit, MP Jacob Rees Mogg did not join in the barracking and looked quietly disturbed throughout. Might he reason with Boris Johnson, the Attorney General and anyone else in need?
Today in a very well-judged statement, the Speaker who had received an approach from two very senior members on either side of the House pressing the case for a formal consideration of our political culture, addressed the house before opening the day’s proceedings. He said:
“I think there is a widespread sense across the House and beyond that yesterday the House did itself no credit. There was an atmosphere in the chamber worse than any I’ve known in my 22 years in the house. On both sides passions were inflamed; angry words were uttered; the culture was toxic.
“This country faces the most challenging political issue that we have grappled with in decades. There are genuine, heartfelt, sincerely-subscribed-to differences of opinion about that matter … Members must be free to express themselves about it and to display, as they unfailingly do, the courage of their convictions.” ….
He ended by stressing that this is not a party-political matter and asked his colleagues, in the meantime, to try to treat each other as opponents, not as enemies.
‘Way to go’
It is imperative for colleagues friends and family – any people who are able to exercise influence on belligerent MPs and the Prime Minister – should do so, because, as the FT’s Robert Shrimsley writes:
“You have to ask whether he is really ready for the forces he is unleashing”.