Sketch: What hope for democracy when consensus breaks out?

Click to follow
The Independent Online

It is not the proper function of politicians to agree. Yes, the public disapproves when they argue, but that is what they supposed to do in a democracy. If you wanted to watch politicians agreeing, you could have tuned into the 18th Congress of the Chinese Communist Party a fortnight ago.

But agree they did. George Osborne had done a good job of preventing the name of the new Governor of the Bank of England from leaking to the press, so for once, MPs heard it first. They loved that. It made them feel that the Chancellor thinks that they matter. Piling on the flattery, Mr Osborne also announced that the new Governor, Mark Carney, is prepared to be questioned by the Treasury select committee before taking up in the job, as if MPs were part of the decision-making progress.

Moreover, Ed Balls was so pleased that someone he knows has landed an important job that he abandoned his usual role of sitting on the front bench making annoying hand gestures to wind up ministers. Instead, he praised the Chancellor.

As he spoke, you could see John Redwood, the brains of the Tory party's anti-EU, free-market wing, nodding in agreement. George Osborne was so pleased he talked about wanting to bottle up this consensus for future use. When all the politicians agree like this, it can only portend disaster.

After the Chancellor – or Posh Boy Two, as Nadine Dorries thinks of him – came the turn of Posh Boy One. David Cameron reporting back from a Brussels summit ought to be an occasion for faction-fighting all round, with the Prime Minister receiving at least as much aggro from his own side as from the Opposition, but it just was not like that. Mr Cameron had left Brussels without signing an agreement that nobody thought he should have signed. Ed Miliband did his half-hearted best to disagree, but there was nothing much to disagree about.

The one moment when the exchange threatened to come alive was when Michael Fabricant, the Conservative vice-chairman whose suggestion of an electoral pact with Ukip was revealed in yesterday's Independent, stood up to raucous cheers. He pointedly congratulated David Cameron on forming a "pact" with Germany and like-minded EU members, and David Cameron pointedly congratulated him on getting the vote out in Corby. That is the town where the Tories have lost a seat to Labour for the first time in 16 years: but at least they kept Ukip down in third place.