A Warwick Boar column which was commended by several people for the inventive use of swearing. See children, swearing is big and it is clever!
When I younger I went on several trips to the wonderful Granada Studios tour in Manchester. Here you could literally walk down Coronation Street, or go in one of those simulator rides which made it look like you were in Star Wars, fighting the Death Star. But, in what might be a tragic reflection of my own character, the most memorable bit for me was when we went into the mock up of the House of Commons and had a debate. I may only have been aged in single figures, but it was fun, it was exciting, it was reassuring as it seemed not to matter that I was growing up, adults still stood around being obnoxious to each other too.
The unfortunate reality was once again reinforced for me this week. More than a decade and a half of disillusionment has passed, and yet it still seemed really rather crushing that Parliament is not a fun place to have spectacular, and important, arguments. When Michael Martin, the House speaker, intervened to slap down David Cameron for asking who would succeed Tony Blair, I felt shortchanged. Of course I would like to hear Blair’s answer. But I want more from my House of Commons (yes, it is mine, I voted last time around and I’ve paid a small amount of tax in my life). I want excitement. I want tension. I want an end to those goddam stupid rules about ‘unparliamentary language’.
There are rules about what MPs can and cannot say to each other in the House. I can see the merit in some of these rules. I am in favour of the one which bans MPs from calling each other liars. If that wasn’t in place they would spend all their time calling each other liars, leaving no room for any other kind of interaction, until eventually their brains would cease higher functions leaving only a human shell accusing all in its path of lying. No, to save their intellects we must at the very least force them to think of other ways of saying what us civilians are allowed to say without any fear – many of our elected representatives have their pants on fire – with my personal favourite being Winston Churchill’s peerless “terminological inexactitude”.
But almost all insults are banned. Actual examples such as “git”, “traitor” and “rat” have been tried over the years, and all have been slapped down by the speaker. It robs us of the opportunity to see and hear some really interesting verbal punch ups, especially when it seems quite apparent that such insults are being traded behind the scenes. Imagine how much the permitted use of “twat” would enliven an early day motion about ASBOs. Revel, if you will, in the Hansard records of a full on, no word too rude, bout between John Reid and George Galloway. Bearing in mind that everyone loves hearing posh people swear, the Tories should be big exponents of the removal of these limitations as they would instantly find themselves getting voted in as the electorate races to fill parliament with amusingly upper crust types shouting “bugger” at the oiks on the other side of the floor.
And in case there are any killjoys who say that this would drag politics down I have this to say. At least this plan would be above board and honest. At least all concerned would know that it was personal, and that calling, say, Charles Clarke a “goat faced puffed up crock o’shite” is purely based on not liking him. The alternative is to be witnessed in America where insults and lies are dressed up as campaign adverts and broadcast uncritically to millions. It’s hard to fight back when a counter advertising campaign can cost millions and be broadcast too long after the initial insult to prevent it having impact. At least in a rude parliament the public will see both sides of the argument instantly… even if both sides are, apparently, “twats”.