How the British Parliament works

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Over the last three years I have put up with a rather old and indiosyncratic laptop. I always had to use it on mains – the battery didn’t work. And a particularly fun feature of it was that I had to open and start using Internet Explorer three times before the session finally “stuck” and continued uninterrupted.

Suffice it to say that I was in extensive correspondence with a trading standards officer about that purchase.

Fortunately, I have been blessed with both iPad and iPhone which have filled the breach. But there are certain things which need a laptop. I have blogged very successfully on a phone and on an iPad. But there are annoying little “features” of both. Each gives about 90% coverage of the tasks needed to do real heavy duty blogging. If you really want to get down and dirty, with links, photos and extensive typing, then you need a laptop or PC.

I long considered buying a new laptop. I nearly succombed to a Maccydooddle of some nature. But in the end, declaring an interest in that I work for the company that make them, I got an HP Pavilion 360. Professor Green had one in a rather dodgy video he made. It’s a godsend. – The laptop, not Professor Green’s rather dodgy video.

Anyway, tonight my new laptop really came into its own. I have spent the night in a house without the full 9999 channels via Sky which are now considered a basic requirement of life. (But of course, I am of the annoying generation who, apart from insisting on drinking out of glasses and not bottles, also remembers when there were only two black and white TV channels that broadcast only in the evenings, accompanied by pop music played only for an hour a day on one radio channel or through a variable audio scrambler in the evenings from Luxemburg).

All the good advice I receive comes from my wife or daughter. My wife advised me to pre-load some programmes to watch from BBC iPlayer, which I did. This will now sound like a commercial. I then watched the programmes in “tent mode” on my laptop. It’s a 360 you see. It works in four different position-thingymes.

Anyway, coming round finally to the subject of this post, (and perhaps it is better when I am constrained to brevity by using a phone for blogging) I watched the third episode of “Inside the Commons” – which was a corker. The programme is a co-production between the BBC and the Open University. So, no doubt, it will be a part of the staple diet of students of politics for many years to come. It will serve them very well. Dear old Michael Cokerell is superb at producing this sort of stuff. It’s made by Atlantic Productions with assistance from the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

Quite what the Aussies will make of the following shenanighans from this week’s episode, I know not:

  • There was scheduled to be a vote at 10pm on a subject which was not mentioned in the motion which was going to be voted on.
  • Then at 9pm, before the vote on the subject which it wasn’t really a vote on, the opposition called a vote on the proposal that the vote at 10pm on the subject that it wasn’t a vote on be not held, or “not put”.
  • So, then the government supporters had to talk about nothing for 30 minutes while their members were brought back early from the middle of dinners throughout central London. Risking Bullingdon Club references, the Prime Minister came back in white tie and tails from the Lord Mayor of London’s dinner.
  • So, finally, there were enough government members, so that the government supporters could stop talking about nothing and then the vote was put that the vote not be put about the subject on which the vote was not about.
  • The house voted, clearly, that the vote on the subject that the vote was not about be not not put.
  • In other words, the house voted that the vote on the subject that the vote wasn’t about should be put.
  • But then, as far as I can make out, the vote on the subject that the vote was not about was not put anyway, and everyone went home.
  • The government won the day, but it was considered a great victory for the opposition, and particularly for an opposition MP called Jacob Rees-Mogg, who is a member of one of the governing parties, so he isn’t an “opposition MP” at all, except that he is.
  • In amongst this farce of British Parliament at its finest, poor little Master Willotts, son of Jenny Willotts, was being passed from pillar to post, as he waited for his mummy to vote before he could finally go to bed.

It makes explaining the rules of cricket to an American seem like child’s play. You know the one:

You have two sides, one out in the field and one in. Each man that’s in the side that’s in goes out, and when he’s out he comes in and the next man goes in until he’s out. When they are all out, the side that’s out comes in and the side thats been in goes out and tries to get those coming in, out. Sometimes you get men still in and not out.

When a man goes out to go in, the men who are out try to get him out, and when he is out he goes in and the next man in goes out and goes in. There are two men called umpires who stay all out all the time and they decide when the men who are in are out. When both sides have been in and all the men have been out, and both sides have been out twice after all the men have been in, including those who are not out, that is the end of the game!

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