What is Parliament playing at?
In a week of pointless votes in Parliament, is it enough to say at least we are voting?
Theresa May’s Conservative Minority, Power-Sharing, Buying of Votes, whatever you want to call it, falls shy of a Government for many reasons, but none are more crucial, more important to our democracy, than the severe lack of legislation going through Parliament.
This administration has overseen one of the quietest starts to a new Parliament in decades, with the level of legislation going through Parliament lower than under Cameron, Brown, Blair or Major’s first year in Government. Now, you could blame this on Theresa May’s spectacular failure to secure a majority last year, stuck with a minority government propped up by the DUP which means she can no longer rely on getting through all the promises she made. But there is no excuse for, within this vacuum of Government legislation, to instead put forward idiotic and useless legislation that seeks to only promote a party’s self-interest and not for the benefit of the wider public.
I am talking, of course, about the emergency debates on the Syria air strikes and Labour’s War Convention vote. Neither of these votes are worth the paper they are written on, and yet they still went ahead, which leads me to question do we now have a Parliament based on personality over representation?
The same could be said about the Brexit negotiations, I like to think no matter how you voted you would, at least, be concerned about the lack of legislation that is going through Parliament to prepare us for this. Theresa May has consistently pushed back legislation, fearing rebellion from her backbenchers and facing embarrassment if she loses key votes. But the dent in May’s personality should not be dictating whether we are prepared for Brexit, with less than one year to go all our representatives have voted on is the date we leave. That’s it.
So, when Parliament does vote, is it voting on what matters?
Well, yes, and no. Key debates that have been pushed in the media have been motions put forward by Labour to embarrass the Conservative Party, and even when the vote goes ahead, only the opposition party’s vote (Conservative MP’s abstain). Does this help us as a society? Arguably, no. The debates are nothing but symbolic, and while Government must allow time for opposition debates, there are much better uses to them than party political point scoring. In my opinion, recent opposition debates have been a complete and utter waste of Parliament’s time and money, but they do serve a purpose of providing ammunition against the Conservative Party and, as a Labour Party member, I do relish in that aspect. But should a party be using Parliament as a vehicle to point score against the government? No. Similarly, the Government should not be using debates to point score against opposition parties, but here we are.
Now I’m no fan of the Conservative Party, but it’s becoming clearer that they are insistent on limping on until 2022. It is time Labour, SNP, Green’s and Liberal Democrats stopped with their petty point scoring, and start putting forward motions that will improve their constituents lives and will force the Government to govern.
Jack is the Digital Engagement Manager and Co-founder of The Front Bench, he studies Politics at the University of Salford.