Teaching Comparative Government and Politics

Saturday, July 25, 2015

The youngster raises some good questions

Like a lot of Brits, those of us who have watched Commons for years have become inured to the eccentricities of MPs' behaviors. Newcomers bring a new persective.

Mhairi Black criticises Westminster's 'silly traditions'
Westminster must decide whether it is a museum or a functional parliament, according to the UK's youngest MP.

Mhairi Black, aged 20, was elected as MP for Paisley and Renfrewshire South in May amid a wave of SNP dominance in Scotland.

Her maiden speech in the House of Commons became a viral hit, racking up millions of views…

On the issue of the no clapping rule in the House of Commons she said: "So you're not allowed to clap like an ordinary person, but you're allowed to bray like a donkey?

"I mean, see PMQs, especially the Conservative side, they've got this weird noise they do. It actually sounds like a drunken mob." …

She also suggested the tradition of having to vote in person, rather than electronically, was outdated.

"Are we genuinely saying that the Underground can log millions of travellers, day in, day out, without a problem, and 650 of us can't hit a button?

"It's just stupid. A couple of Mondays ago, I didn't get home until half past midnight because we were voting. How is anybody with a family supposed to work those hours?"…

As in the US Congress when members give speeches, there were few people in Commons when Ms Black gave her first speech. Her SNP colleagues were the main audience. So there were few "bray" noises and many "Hear! Hear!" cheers that substitute for applause.

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