On parliamentary reform

A gentleman in Texas continues to heckle my effusions, pretending to correct me in small matters, such as my opposition to “democracy,” Darwinism, technological progress, the electronic media in which I operate and indeed, the whole modern world. He is an exponent of “Tea Party” values, which I find unpleasantly populist and liberal. Too, he persistently defends the American Revolution, and displays a bigoted resentment of British institutions, including our Crown. He has some sort of Yankee fixation on “George the Turd,” long dead and buried. Lately he has taken to calling me a “Thirteenther.”

The term will have to be explained. It originated during one of my rare appearances on television, when another guest called me, “A Man of the Thirteenth Century.” I took this for the finest compliment I had ever received in a public place, and added it immediately to my collection of Honours, the way Henry Tudor did with “Fidei defensor.”

This morning the gentleman pings to me photographs of the British House of Commons in session. These included nine in which the members were debating important public issues, and in which the chamber was almost empty. Two more were attached, in which they were discussing MPs’ pay, and expenses, and in these the chamber was packed to the gills.

Needless to say, this could hardly surprise me. Gentle reader will be acquainted with my view of politicians, by which my views on “democracy” are explained. Democracy, or more precisely, crass demagoguery, will produce such results every time. It makes no sense whatever to put political power in the hands of those who want it, and will beg for it, and think they can benefit from it, when in fact worldly power is detrimental to their souls. It seems perfectly obvious, at least to me, that the public interest would be better served by inheriting Lords. Unlike “the people,” nature will not always select for charismatic head cases; and anyway, those who must take on solemn responsibilities should be properly apprenticed to their trade.

Thus I’m delighted to see my Chief Texas Correspondent coming round to my Thirteenther view of Parliament.

As a traditionalist, I’d be entirely opposed to abolishing such a venerable (and mediaeval) institution. But it should not be allowed to drift out of hand. The truth is that, today, we have considerable work to do, rolling back many generations of parliamentary “reform.”

To be sure, the House of Commons should meet, but not so frequently as to become tedious. And the sessions should be filled with pageantry, including long magnificent rituals in Latin or, if necessary, Greek. I have always been thrilled by the Opening of Parliament, but attendees should be restricted to those who look well on a horse, and there should be a matching Closing of Parliament, of at least equal splendour.

Too, the great majority of seats should be assigned to “rotten boroughs,” in which members are elected by very small cabals: a dozen or fewer old borborygmatics, who can be relied upon to return one of their own, or one of their flunkeys. The sort who will sneer and jeer at any proposal for innovation, and snore ostentatiously during debates.

And if they do manage to pass something clever in the House of Commons, it will be promptly crushed in the House of Lords.

And if it somehow gets past them, the Queen shouldn’t have to sign it. Or even read it, if she’s not in the mood.

And no member of either House should be paid. Rather, each will need a lot of money to pay his own expenses: for the ceremonial will be grand, and his clothes alone will cost him a caboodle.

My one concession to modernity would be ashtrays everywhere in the committee rooms. These rooms should be small, with low ceilings, and poor ventilation, leaving even the smokers choking and gasping for fresh air, singularly eager to conclude their business. And a very attractive, high-ceilinged pub should be set right across the street, with beautiful and flirtatious barmaids, and the press strictly banned.

On sober second thought, it might not be necessary to ban them, since most would be languishing in the Tower, out of sight and mind from the “working men of England,” who have lives, and families, and jobs to be getting on with.