27 February 2006
The abolition of Parliament.  Is it really such a bad thing?

I notice quite a lot of people have been getting steamed up over the Abolition of Parliament Bill (not real name).  They seem to think Parliament is a Good Thing.  Which begs the question: is it?

The truth is that Parliament doesn’t matter all that much.  It is no longer the place where the issues of the day are resolved.  That role is now fulfilled by means of the mass media, opinion polls and elections, occasionally supplemented by referendums and insurrection.  And because it is not the place where issues are resolved it can no longer attract talented people to fill its benches.

There are good reasons why Parliament is so weak.  Almost every MP knows full well that he owes his seat to his party and its leader which is why he toes the party line.  He owes his seat to his party and leader because elections are fought on a national basis.  They are fought on a national basis because the media is national.

Now, I am not saying that the executive shouldn’t be held to account - far from it - but perhaps it is time we accepted that Parliament isn’t the way to do it.

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