by Peter Franklin
Wednesday, 21
April 2021
Spotted
11:39

It’s time to unlock Parliament and pin-down government

Lockdown curtailed parliamentary scrutiny — we need to bring it back
by Peter Franklin
Health Secretary Matt Hancock

Is Covid just a conspiracy by politicians to grab more power? One of the problems with that theory is motive. Yes, politicians love power — but right up until the pandemic what they used it for was to build a global economy of hyper-mobile, hyperactive workers and consumers.  

Lockdown achieved the exact opposite of that. 


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However, there is one aspect of lockdown that suits government very well — the curtailment of parliamentary scrutiny. A blogpost from the Constitution Unit at UCL points out that it’s been a year since the House of Commons returned from the Easter 2020 recess in much diminished form. 

Obviously, measures had to be taken to stop Covid spreading through our national legislature and executive. The fact that that the disease came alarmingly close to killing the Prime Minister himself was a demonstration of the severity of the threat.

Inevitably, the Commons has struggled to conduct its business in socially-distanced fashion. Forcing MPs to vote in person resulted in farcical situations like the ‘Mogg Conga’, a kilometre-long queue of Parliamentarians.  

But worse for democracy are practices like proxy voting. This is how Professor Meg Russell and her fellow Constitution Unit authors describe what’s still going on:

Few people outside Westminster realise that nearly all MPs are now voting by proxy rather than in person, with just a handful casting their own votes. On the last sitting day before Easter, 595 out of 650 MPs were certified as eligible for proxies. Those 595 votes were held by just 18 nominated people — primarily party whips. A single government whip was responsible for casting 329 votes and one opposition whip for 173.
- Prof Meg Russell, Constitution Unit

At a time when government is wielding extraordinary powers and spending extraordinary amounts of money, we need more Parliamentary scrutiny not less. Russell and her colleagues remind us that more than 400 Coronavirus-related statutory instruments have been laid before Parliament, an “unusually high share” of which became law without being scrutinised first.

In an emergency, a government has to move at speed — especially when faced with an enemy that multiplies exponentially. But now that the threat is subsiding, the restoration of normal parliamentary procedure — and, indeed, its improvement — is a key test of government good faith.

We need proof that our leaders haven’t got too attached to their emergency powers. Naturally, we’ll look for that reassurance in our lives first — in being allowed to do the things we took for granted before. 

However, as important as it is that restrictions on our freedom of movement are lifted, it’s equally important that they are reimposed on the government’s room for manoeuvre. 

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Fraser Bailey
Fraser Bailey
1 year ago

Getting these people to relinquish then powers they have grabbed for themselves over the last year will be one hell of a job. They are psychopaths, pure and simple, across all the parties.
I’m pretty sure that it wasn’t always like this. The nature of politicians has altered – very much for the worse – over the last 25 years or so.

Fran Martinez
Fran Martinez
1 year ago

Good luck trying to make government give their powers back. There will always be a new threat, a new variant, terrorism, etc

Galeti Tavas
Galeti Tavas
1 year ago

“Is Covid just a conspiracy by politicians to grab more power? One of the problems with that theory is motive. ”

Motive is easy, there is a conspiracy by the ‘Global Elites’ to take over fully. As they (the Donor Class) fund most election campaigns (in USA totally) they own both parties. From rising as a youth to the House, Parliament, or Senate you must bend with the sources of money, selling bit of your soul at each step.

At the top is a hazy, almost invisible, collective who let it be known which way things should go, and so on down. Soros we know, but most are not known.

All government and industry works on Debt, this is economics 101. From Henry the VII, and every other government, this has been. Central banks make money and give it to the financiers who them loan it out, and loan it back to the Central Bank. In USA the Treasury Bond Market is all, for complex reasons, but debt is the main mechanism of gov and industry.

Going back into the shadowy times till now there have been families who control the debt, the Rothschilds, say, and a couple hundred others, and they run the world by influencing the money at all levels.

Now it is time to destroy the middle class as they have some ethics, education, money, and want a prosperous nation with stability. They have had the power in the West from the Glorious Revolution, now it is time they were broken as democracy will allow it by – what is happening.

Warren Alexander
Warren Alexander
1 year ago

MPs are probably very content to take their salaries and do nothing. Starmer has given up on Opposition and the Tories are just Johnson’s lap dogs so it is difficult to see what difference it would make having the MPs in the HofC

Last edited 1 year ago by Warren Alexander
Malcolm Ripley
Malcolm Ripley
1 year ago

Note to the casual reader who suspects I’m wearing a tin foil hat , you can buy a book written by Klaus Schwab of the WEF on Amazon its called “Covid 19 The Great Reset” !

I was 50:50 about whether Johnson, Hancock etc were followers of the WEF Great Reset or just influenced by some followers. For example, Bill Gates whispering about vaccine solutions which just happen to fit in very nicely with WEF’s health reset plans! What I struggled to determine was why would the government continue to pursue the masks, distancing, semi strangled hospitality etc given where we now are. They could open up and still pursue a WEF Great Reset plan. Then it became obvious : the moment they admit to “normality” then parliament must resume. They like the current situation and it has nothing to do with any world plans.

Chris Wheatley
Chris Wheatley
1 year ago

It seems to me that blaming the government is too easy. If you don’t like something you might as well blame those in charge.

Opinion polls during the lockdown have shown that about 70% of the population agree with lockdown. UnHerd contributors don’t agree – it’s all a matter of ‘individual freedoms. Blame the government.

Many streets in towns and cities are no-go areas. Blame the government. Put cameras everywhere as a deterrent, which isn’t very effective. Blame the government.

Joblessness increases, give out more social security money. Become a nation of ‘scroungers’. New industry becomes unworkable because of environmentalists. Blame the government.

BAME / LGBT+ issues infect the whole world. Governments struggle because we haven’t met things like this before. Blame the government.

The only countries which don’t seem to be affected by these modern issues are China and Russia. Ugh! Their evil governments!

Ok, so now we understand. We want governments to be very strong, to resist the rise of things we don’t like but to keep out of the way with things we like. Don’t give money to the plebs – let them starve. Keep out immigrants and force our youngsters to do the dirty jobs. Did I hear Grammar Schools? How about National Service?

Give me young people any time. History just can’t be as important as the future.

Last edited 1 year ago by Chris Wheatley
Fraser Bailey
Fraser Bailey
1 year ago
Reply to  Chris Wheatley

I’m not really sure what your point is. Many of the problems you outline above can only be blamed on the policies of successive governments. There is nothing that we can do about these problems, and if we tried to do something about them we would be locked up.
The Russian and Chinese governments are indeed abhorrent but don’t think that Brussels, for instance, doesn’t see them as a model to emulate. Moreover, the Chinese and Russian governments are broadly competent, which cannot be said of many western governments.

Chris Wheatley
Chris Wheatley
1 year ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

My point is clear. The future is the most important thing. Negatives are useless. History is not always relevant; key figures in the past ruled because they were Dukes and Earls, not because they were clever.

We had/have a lockdown. Get over it and make positive plans going forward. We are stuck with LGBT+ issues because young people think they are important. They don’t have to be right; they are the next generation and it will be their world.

Galeti Tavas
Galeti Tavas
1 year ago
Reply to  Chris Wheatley

I rarely have read a post I disagree with as much as yours above, but it is fundimental to each of us, so no point of arguing, just a mention that I disagree.

Jeff Andrews
Jeff Andrews
1 year ago
Reply to  Chris Wheatley

No, I won’t just ‘get over’ being locked up for no good reason, made to wear masks just as Jews were made to wear stars and experimented on. Having our elderly killed by DNR and herded into lethal captivity. I want revenge on those who’ve done this to us and on the collaborators and fifth columnists who enabled it.
And just because a different generation has been brainwashed that critical race theory, LBGT, etc is normal doesn’t mean it is and they must be cured to save next generations from ruination.
I imagine you think having a govt that gets us and future generations in trillions of pounds in debt is normal, do you?