Here in Britain, we often talk about the "aggressive" and "confrontational" atmosphere of the House of Commons during Prime Ministers' Questions. But the reality is that the gravest injury one of our politicians is likely to suffer is a psychological wounding from a rhetorical barb, or perhaps a paper cut from a vigorously-waved order paper.
Anyone wishing to see a real confrontation in a legislative setting should take a look at the scenes from the Ukrainian parliament yesterday. Eggs flew and smoke bombs were detonated. Brawls broke out around the chamber. The speaker, Volodymyr Lytvyn, had to be protected from projectiles by umbrellas (a scene, no doubt, to send a shudder down John Bercow's spine). Rarely has Carl von Clausewitz's dictum that "war is a mere continuation of politics by other means" seemed quite so close to being literally true.
Yet the remarkable thing is that despite the chaos, the debate continued and the legislation that had prompted the battle was even successfully ratified. That's admirable legislative efficiency in the face of adversity. Who says British politics has nothing to learn from our continental neighbours?Reuse content