Watch the ‘heroic’ moment Labour MP Lloyd Russell-Moyle takes direct action in parliament

Labour MP Lloyd Russell-Moyle
Joshua Funnell

A frenzied day in parliament on 10 December ended with a heroic act of defiance by Labour MP Lloyd Russell-Moyle.

Government using parliamentary dark arts to stop democracy

Yesterday, the cowardly Theresa May spectacularly U-turned on her commitment to a vote on her Brexit deal; notably because she’d lose.

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Instead of allowing MPs to decide whether to allow this delay to her promised vote, May’s government instead stopped it unilaterally. The vote could now be postponed until as late as 21 January.

Labour MP Chris Bryant described the government’s tactic as “a shabby little trick”.

The government warned by the speaker

Most surprisingly, the government was warned by the speaker, John Bercow, that it would be “discourteous” to behave in such a manner:

Which Another Angry Voice translated perfectly from civil Englishness:

And journalist Robert Peston summed up the stupidity of the whole UK system perfectly:

But thankfully, Corbyn managed to secure an emergency debate for 11 December on the government’s decision to pull the vote:

Russell-Moyle had seen enough

Lloyd Russell-Moyle sat in a full chamber of furious MPs to watch this farce unfold. Earlier in the day, he had voiced his brewing frustration:

And when given a chance to speak, he didn’t mince his words:

Russell-Moyle maces the government

But when the government finally used the “discourteous” mechanism to stop a vote, Russell-Moyle had seen enough and took drastic action:

He removed the symbolic mace, without which debate cannot continue.

For violating this sacred cow of parliament, Russell-Moyle had the mace confiscated by the deputy Serjeant-at-Arms:

He was also then expelled by Bercow for the remainder of the day and escorted off the premises:

Why did he do it? Russell-Moyle in his own words

But Russell-Moyle was defiant about his actions.

He then reportedly attended a local Westminster pub, where he was greeted as a hero:

The Huffington Post reported Russell-Moyle as saying:

I thought, one person is shouting ‘tomorrow’ and literally hundreds of people are shouting ‘today’, and the will of Parliament is going to be ignored.

The symbolic gesture of lifting the mace and removing it is that the will of Parliament to govern is no longer, it has been removed, and I felt Parliament had effectively given up its sovereign right to govern properly.

And more than that, this was about a more significant constitutional point in our failing democracy:

If we don’t sort out our constitutional settlement so that governments can’t do this in the future we do need to keep lodging these protests.

Varied reactions to his symbolic moment

Russell-Moyle’s behaviour has provoked varied reactions on social media, but largely positive.

Journalist Owen Jones praised his actions:

Although some of our US cousins were confused by the incident:

Others recalled that a certain shadow chancellor once pulled a similar stunt when he was a backbencher:

But others seemed less impressed by his actions. The BBC’s Laura Kuenssberg was one of them:

Although perhaps Kuenssberg needs to step out of her “nerd world” for once and acknowledge a democratic outrage has taken place, instead of fixating on trivial formalities.

Labour MP Alex Sobel saw the funny side of Kuenssberg’s remark:

A legend?

Russell-Moyle recently showed he is brave and principled when he announced to parliament that he is HIV positive. And this latest incident proves how far his principles will drive him.

His actions remind us of the words of political activist Mario Savio:

There’s a time when the operation of the machine becomes so odious, makes you so sick at heart, that you can’t take part, you can’t even passively take part. And you’ve got to put your bodies upon the gears and upon the wheels, upon the levers, upon all the apparatus, and you’ve got to make it stop!

Russell-Moyle is one of a new generation of radical MPs unimpressed and unintimidated by the stuffy antiquated procedures of the British parliament, procedures that allow abuses of power by governments.

The video below sums up how he will be remembered by many of us:

Featured image via YouTube – Owen Jones

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