As Parliament is suspended for five weeks amid shouting and rowdy singing, here are a few passing thoughts. Boris Johnson’s arm movements will feature towards the end.
On the radio this morning, historian David Starkey and Baroness Helena Kennedy squabbled over the proroguing of Parliament.
Well, I say squabbled, but really Kennedy just stressed the importance of Parliament in a representative democracy. While Starkey went off on one, referred to himself a great historian, shouted ‘rubbish!” and said the will of the people mattered more than Parliament.
Like everything else, it depended on your settled view; I sided with Kennedy for her calm good sense.
The doorbell just rang. I popped downstairs but it was only David Starkey shouting “rubbish!” at me through the letterbox. I left him out there in the street.
How divided we all are nowadays. Opinions certainly split over Speaker John Bercow: a Tory often loved by Labour for his eccentric interference in government business and hated equally by his own side.
I’d say he’s a pompous little man when a pompous little man is just what’s been required; a pompous little man with big Parliamentary principles who likes the sound of his own voice and uses that voice well.
Iain Duncan Smith, Brexiteer and nose-picker general, was also on the radio this morning, lambasting Bercow as a national disgrace or something. It’s a rule in politics that anything Duncan Smith says is wrong. For a man who was such a calamitous leader of his party, he appears to think highly of himself.
Not on the radio this morning was Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn.
After rightly slamming the government in the Commons last night before the shutdown, he should have followed this up with a robust media appearance this morning. Instead as usual we got Barry Sheerman being annoying; this man is wheeled out every time to put the Labour position with a whine with a sneer. I’d like to have heard Corbyn, but he avoids the big interview slots – a reluctance shared with Johnson.
Corbyn did, however, speak to the TUC this morning, saying Johnson’s claim to be representing the people against Parliament was absurd. So it is, but so too is local Labour parties voting to deselect MPs in the run-up to an election. Yet this has just happened to Hull North MP Diana Johnson.
Booting out MPs who aren’t pro-JC enough is a great way to give Labour broad appeal, say me and my can of irony spray paint.
Before closing time last night, the prime minister suffered another setback – “Six votes, six defeats…” as the Guardian’s headline puts it. The latest defeat being his bid for a snap election.
Somehow, the Daily Express manages to talk up Johnson’s performance in the Commons, bellowing: “Boris blasts Brexit ‘yellow bellies’”.
The paper calls his speech ‘barnstorming’; well, it was a small barn in truth, more of a shed, and not so much a storm as a bit of a blow. Then again, the Express is famous for getting the weather wrong.
Now to those movements. Johnson gave a press conference yesterday with the Irish Taoiseach. Leo Varadkar told home truths about the reality of a hard Brexit while Johnson was forced to listen at an adjacent podium, looking uncomfortable.
Then he made exaggerated movements with his arms, flinging them out to the side, alternated with fidgeting and hair ruffling.
What was all that about? Oh, at a guess Johnson doesn’t like it when the spotlight is shining elsewhere; not happy having to stay silent when someone else speaks. He wants all the attention, all the love in the room. And there’s not much love for him right now.