The trouble with Parliament is it just doesn’t have enough privately educated MPs

Can’t these 17th-century traditions be a bit more, well, 11th century?

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The Independent Online

In that new documentary Inside the Commons, David Cameron said the Houses of Parliament “looks like a school.” And this is typical of his shrewd powers of observation, because until then I hadn’t noticed the uncanny architectural similarities between the Palace of Westminster and Swanley Comprehensive where I was taught.

Sometimes I’d get lost on the way to lessons, as there were so many gothic arches I’d forget how many I’d walked through. Then we’d all play football using the Georgian clock tower as a goal.

This likeness between schools and palaces is leading to problems in some inner-city areas, as lessons are being moved due to restoration of the Tudor chambers, and kids have to drag their textbooks to makeshift Regency balconies overlooking the river.

It must be wonderful to be David Cameron, gliding through a life of such privilege he has no concept of how grubby most things are. He probably imagines a Job Centre looks like St Mark’s Square in Venice, but on a day when it’s a bit cloudy.

It’s not just him, because if you watch Inside the Commons carefully, you might detect that the whole process by which we’re governed is mental. For example, the Speaker must at all times be flanked by sombre men in wigs that look like a Victorian hip-hop entourage.

If an MP wishes to speak they must “catch the eye of the Speaker” by “bobbing” in such a way as to get his attention. So it would be more sensible if the floor of the House of Commons was a bouncy castle, and the MP who could boing over the others got the chance to ask if there was any progress on the inquiry into abuse in Rotherham, as the others tried to out-bounce him.

The Speaker has to be dragged to his chair to symbolise something or other from the year 1600, and any new law has to be signed off in French as this was how it was done under the Normans. Under the bloody NORMANS.


This must make parliament the only body that’s almost a whole thousand years out of date. To them, Chaucer is loud modern rubbish.

MPs must book their seat for a big debate by attending morning prayers, which must be spoken while facing the wall, as Catholics had to do this in 1680.

Eventually nothing becomes surprising. I expected to hear that the MP for Winchester can only speak while brandishing a sword dipped in yoghurt, having revealed the flavour, so he cries “I declare hazelnut to friend and foe”, then makes a comment about inflation.

Or the first speech of the day must be made while writhing in crotchless panties on the ceremonial mace, to celebrate the Battle of Bosworth.

Then MPs get excited about the chance to take part in Prime Minister’s Questions, especially if they’re from the same party, so they say, “Does the Prime Minister agree that the latest figures on sales of bathmats prove our economic strategy is glorious like the shimmering waves of the Pacific Ocean lapping against the resplendent Mexican cliffs? And furthermore, that the Prime Minister’s sultry iridescent thighs pulsate with the majesty of finely tuned steam pistons, eager, patient, yet deadly like panthers, Prime Minister?”

Another factor that might seem slightly outdated is that one third of MPs went to private school, including 51 per cent of Conservatives, of whom 20 went to Eton. Maybe this is just coincidence, and in the next parliament there will be 20 MPs from Kingsmeadow Comprehensive in Gateshead. 

But a new study predicts the percentage of privately educated MPs will be even higher after the election. Britain has to be congratulated for this, as it means we’ve taken a system of government dependent on rituals from between the 11th and 17th centuries, and we’re making it even more outdated. It’s like deciding the problem with jousting is it’s too modern.

By the end of the next parliament we’ll have abandoned signing laws in Norman and pass them in a series of grunts. Magna Carta will be abolished as too politically correct and we’ll decide the trouble with medieval Britain is it wasn’t medieval enough.

Instead of the right to govern and own land being hereditary, we’ll make everything else hereditary as well, like the right to sneeze and the ability to sing. The X Factor will only take 10 minutes, as Simon Cowell will reveal which contestant is closest in line to the throne and they’ll have the Christmas No 1.

But the true genius of this situation, is that this body of people dragging speakers and muttering prayers to walls and trying to be Norman, is the same one that demands our public institutions must learn to modernise. Libraries, hospitals and fire services must stop expecting to be kept afloat like they were in the outdated 1970s and become modern.

This must be what’s caused the confusion. Services try to keep up but it’s never enough, and this is why. To modernise in the way the politicians want, libraries should only lend books printed in Saxon, and fire engines should be replaced by a firefighter who’s dragged to the fire by six men in wigs snorting snuff.

And hospitals must abandon Accident and Emergency departments, and replace them with a scheme where the patients “try to catch the eye of the surgeon” by bobbing up and down with the most exotic wound or greatest number of internal organs sliding out.