Wednesday, July 18, 2012

In the House of Commons

For some, watching the debates or sessions in Parliament is like watching paint dry.  I quite enjoy it.  I wanted to see them in person.  And its possible!

So, adhering to the process, I wrote to my local MP for Kensington and voila, two weeks later I got a ticket to visit Westminster and attended the public hearing in the House of Commons (HOC).   That was yesterday!

As a London resident, I pass by Big Ben, and have taken numerous pictures when my clan visits, but I had not yet ventured inside.  And guess what, I wasn't in no ordinary screening gallery, but the 'Special Screening West' Gallery which might I add allows you to enter right after the ceremonial procession.  The procession lasts for all about 58 seconds...still, it is impressive as it rings in the Speaker (John Bercow) following very dressed-up guards, someone holding a golden mast, and then more dressed-up people behind him.   This was nice, but doesn't compare to the extent of ceremonial must-do's in Cambridge life.

The session itself was on Health.   I stayed for little over two hours.  All the Health Ministers from the government, as well as the Opposition were there.  So, was Keith Vaz, but he was outside giving an interview, which was probably just how he normally starts his day.

In the HOC, they talked social care, NHS, insulin pumps, Nursery Milk Scheme, MP's having to defend their responsibilities, and boob jobs and man boobs, no kidding!!

This is because a Cosmetic Surgery bill was presented to the House which included the details for doctors to adhere to certain Minimum Cosmetic Surgery Standards.   It is an important thing, but boy was it interesting to see the MP's faces with smirks, smiles, and pent up giggles around the house when stories of breast enlargement was talked about.  Those smirks didn't last long, or were quickly converted into a well-positioned comment with a colleague so that it didnt seem 'wrong'.  What followed so quickly was 'sad face' and 'shaking of the head', like the MP could not believe that such things were happening, that it was the saddest story on earth (even while she giggled inside).  How two faced!
Heated discussions ensued and made it interesting, and they silently peeked my interest in politics as a profession.  Very silently.  I think it was more to do with the exhilaration you must get to defend and support causes that you strongly believe in.  Plus, YOU are the voice for your people, that's a big deal.    This world comes with the downside too...and for that you need rhino-like skin.  People are brutal.   

So, back to the session, MP's are quite easily admonished by the Speaker, which reminds you of a class room session, only filled with more rules and tradition.

Some of what tradition dictates is: 

- you address the Speaker only - fine.  

- you follow the strict guidelines as imposed by the Speaker - fine again

- you address your fellow colleague not by their names, but by 'The Honorable Gentleman' or 'Honorable Lady'.  That is a requirement presumably to show respect to a fellow colleague especially useful during heated dialogue.   And yet, it is perfectly alright to follow it up as - 'If the Honorable Gentleman would please shut up....'   Hilarious.  Welcome to politics, ya?!

PS: Thank you Malcolm Rifkind for the opportunity to see our Leaders in action, and to get a glimpse of what they do everyday.

Today I'm humming:  Twist and Shout by The Beatles


  1. Scene between Churchill and Hon Lady of Opposition:

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    Churchill: Hon Lady, if I were your husband, I would drink it!!

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