Is our parliament a joke?

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Dawn Butler was thrown out of parliament for calling Boris Johnson a liar because, as Curtis Daly explains, not being able to call out blatant liars is just one of the archaic practices that still govern our parliamentary process. Isn’t it time we changed that?

Video transcript

Last week, Labour MP Dawn Butler was thrown out of Parliament for calling Boris Johnson a liar.

Under parliamentary rules, MPs are not allowed to accuse each other of lying in the House of Commons.

Our prime minister can wilfully lie and mislead the house with no repercussions, yet those that call him out are punished.

Is our parliament a joke?

The origins of Parliament dates back to the 13th century, with many rules, customs, and traditions that still remain today.

Read on...

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The black rod is a senior officer in the Houses of Parliament and are based in the Lords.

The name ‘black rod’ comes from the state opening of Parliament. They bang on the door of the chamber three times with a big, black rod. Extremely normal behaviour.

When this happens, the chamber door is slammed in their face in order to represent the independence of the Commons.

The ‘Mace’ is a symbol of the Queen’s authority, located in the House of Commons chamber during a parliamentary session.

Any debate that takes place without it being there is deemed illegal.

Back in December 2018, Lloyd Russell-Moyle caused a stir by grabbing it when Theresa May announced she was going to delay the meaningful Brexit vote. 

“Order, put it back. No no…no, order, order”

‘Divisions’ is the name for the voting system in the House of Commons. The chamber is divided into two – the Aye’s and Noes. To vote, an MP literally has to walk to the side of the room that corresponds with their vote.

“The Aye’s to the right, 311, the Noes to the left, 293”

Let’s also mention the ridiculous language MPs use to speak to one another.

The honourable gentleman”

“The right honourable gentleman”

“The honourable gentleman”

I mean, who speaks like that in their everyday lives? 

Our archaic, outdated, and downright weird traditions clearly contribute to the alienation of the majority of people.

A democracy should be a system where all are heard, the powers that be are held accountable, and to be honest… just efficient.

Guys, just get on with the job, and if that means calling a liar a liar, then call a liar a liar.

Clearly, we are a nation that prides itself on traditions and being British, but often times these so called traditions are more for show and hinder our progress. They continue to alienate ordinary people who struggle to relate to all the ‘bells and whistles’.                                                                                   

Going back to Dawn Butler, you get to see a picture as to why her language may have seemed to be somewhat uncouth – especially when you ask our media.

“I think the point is, manners in parliament are really, really important, and it’s why there’s so much of this drawn into procedures  – 

There does need to be respect for others, and lets face it Dawn Butler knew EXACTLY what she was doing; she knew what was going to happen.”

But let’s face it, what Dawn Butler said was true: Boris is a liar.

And not just once, but on multiple occasions – pointed out perfectly by Peter Stefanovic

“We have cut C02 emissions in this country since 2010 on 1990 levels, by 42%… 42%. That is an astonishing achievement.”

“Well it would be if it were true, but it’s just another lie. C02 emissions fell by 39% between 1990 and 2018… not from 2010 onwards.”

That was just a snippet of a 2 minute long video where Stefanovic debunks multiple lies, and that’s just one video.

How is it that Johnson can continue to lie to Parliament and by extension voters? Is he knowingly misleading people, or is he that incompetent that he can’t get his facts straight? Perhaps it’s both, but either way, it’s unnerving that this man is our prime minister.

Even though Keir Starmer has said he agrees with Dawn Butler, saying she was absolutely correct to call Boris Johnson a liar in the Commons, and calling the prime minister “the master of untruth and half-truths”.

At the same time, he also supported Butler being ejected from parliament, citing “that’s the rules”.

This is peak fence-sitting! So why doesn’t Keir Starmer rally against the rules itself?

He could build a popular insurgent campaign and talk about how parliament and our democracy is a farce.

Saying that parliament is clearly built for wealthy, white men.

If you or I step into parliament, we would feel uncomfortable, as this doesn’t represent us.

He could weave a clear narrative and popular message against the elites, and the structures of power.

But the truth is, Keir Starmer clearly prefers to work in the confines of the existing structures, generally because he himself benefits from it with no interest in dismantling them. Starmer wants to show that he can manage democracy better than others.

There’s no point in anyone sitting in the middle of the road, or just tinkering around the edges. People are demanding profound and meaningful change, something that Jeremy Corbyn understood. 

What do you think? Are parliamentary traditions outdated? Should we campaign to change the rules where those that stand up are not punished?

Why not drop a comment below.

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  • Show Comments
    1. Great video! I love how clearly you explained it without being patronising. Thanks. I hadn’t considered not only the absurdity of so many of the traditions but how they serve to alienate people. Parliament is also not at all good for people who have caring responsibilities (usually women).

    2. The whole labour party should be standing up and calling “Liar”, “Liar”, “Liar”, perhaps at every sitting and then everytime he lies. But the problem is that lies have become standard fare in Parliament. Nobody normally even bothers to call it out.

    3. The UK is a monarchy thus any form of democracy would be purely symbolic. And don’t forget the ‘House of Commons’ refers to the commoners house of representatives not distant cousins (Camoron & de Pfeffel Johnson) of the unelected god appointed sitting monarch or for that matter peerage buffoons so aloof from society they struggle to hide their distain for the lowly plebs whom afford their ridiculous wealth, yes Mogg……..

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