The good ole days

Neil Reynolds pines for the days when our politicians were (likening female colleagues to prostitutes?) wittier.

We don’t need a better kind of good behaviour in the Commons. We need a better kind of bad behaviour – in the Commons generally and in QP specifically. We especially need a better kind of invective. Canadian MPs have demonstrated occasional brilliance in putting down their honourable opponents. (One classic: Prime minister John Diefenbaker’s reference to MP Flora MacDonald, his colleague, as “the finest woman ever to walk the streets of Kingston” – an excellent example of an insult that offends a person and a place at the same time.)

Whatever your definition of wit, we need to retire the idea that the British Parliament is some great temple to lively and smart repartee which we should strive to emulate. For one, it shouldn’t matter—if we’re not happy with our lot that should be enough to seek change, regardless of how it compares to how it is elsewhere. For another, the Brits have more than enough of their own problems. Indeed, their current Speaker came to his post with an explicit call for reform amid much lamenting about the decline of the institution. There are plenty of reasons why there’s might seem a more interesting debate—not least being the tremendous amount of close coverage that is dedicated to PMQs—but for the most part, I suspect, we here in the colonies are simply fooled by the fact that a British accent makes everything sound wittier.

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