From electronic voting to better behaviour during PMQs, it's time to drag parliament out of the 19th century—and foster a true modern democracyby Anna McMorrin / September 12, 2018 / Leave a comment
Look at Westminster from a distance, and it appears to be an anachronism. A place with rules and a culture of its own and more in common with an old boy’s public school or gentleman’s club than what it should be: an open and outward facing seat of democracy that represents all of us.
For most people, the only glimpse into the House of Commons is Prime Minister’s Questions. Noisy and often childlike, it does little to present any sort of dignified picture of parliament as both sides swap insults.
Sitting from within, the place seems no more welcoming. My first PMQs last summer was quite an eye-opener. Seated a couple of rows back on the opposition benches, I was unprepared for the volume of noise, and intensity of anger, as each side tested their jousting skills in an effort to win that particular soundbite war.
It felt the epitome of arrogance and entitlement: an establishment content with looking inward, playing its own game by its own rules. Certainly a weekly test for our political leaders, but as a window to the world, it lets us down.
Parliament is a place of great historical significance. But it is a place for those who “have” rather than those who “have not.” As an MP I can go anywhere, sit anywhere and dine anywhere. I have my own staircase, my own tearoom, my own cloakroom, green benches both inside and outside the chamber. I even have doorkeepers to look after me.
But if someone else tries to walk up that staircase, dares to sit on a green bench or enters the cloakroom they ar…