Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Why does the "mother of Parliaments" hate parents?

The UK Parliament is sometimes called "the mother of Parliaments" due to its influence on democratic traditions across its former empire. So its ironic then that it actually seems to hate parents and impede them from being MPs:

Writing in Tuesday’s Daily Record, the member for Aberdeen North, who was one of the cohort of first-time SNP MPs elected in May 2015, described the often comical difficulties she faced when she was left with no choice but to bring two-year-old Rebecca and five-year-old Harris to her place of work.

“The chief issue is the ridiculously archaic voting system. MPs have to physically be present to vote … As the division bells rang to signal [an unexpectedly early vote on Wednesday], both my children were on the toilet. I’m sure ‘hurry up’ is the last thing anyone wants to hear during a bowel movement, but they both took it fairly well,” Blackman writes.

“I did make them run afterwards though, and I made it into the division lobby with only moments to spare.

“I also took them through the lobby with me. This is definitely not supposed to happen. But I have yet to work out what the house expects us to do with small children who are not allowed in the lobby. How do I explain to a two-year-old that she has to stay with adults she has never met so I can vote? The system is nonsensical and overdue for reform.”

There's more - sessions decided on short notice, no proper childcare, and archaic rules preventing "strangers" in committees (leading to the censure mentioned in the article) or in the House. And its like this not for any decent reason, but because the UK Parliament's rules were established in a time when political power was wielded exclusively by old men who had their children raised by nannies and packed off to boarding school at age five, and now its Tradition which Cannot Be Changed. But the result is to make it difficult-to-impossible for MPs who are parents to fulfil their duties as elected representatives.

The establishment loves that - parents would probably do silly things like thinking of their children's futures (and whether they will have one at all) rather than Keeping Britain On Top by imposing austerity, shovelling money at banks, and promising to murder 100,000 people. But the UK's citizens should not. Other parliaments (e.g. in New Zealand) enable parents to be MPs. Isn't it time Westminster caught up, rather than being stuck in the eighteenth century?