Rex Murphy weighs in on the state of civility in the House of Commons.
Read a transcript of this Rex Murphy episode
When one MP, barely a day after the House of Commons resumed, referred to another MP’s clown nose not many were troubled with the accuracy or non-accuracy of his comments. "Why stop at nose?" I imagined many members muttering.
But it was a sure sign that the first dawning moments of a "new" civility in the Commons, that this session would be more mature, polite, civil and intelligent than all the previous ones...was a mad mad hope; that members deep love for tearing at each others’ gizzards, mocking and deriding their opponents, testing the Speakers’ patience was as strong and irrepressible as ever.
A civil House of Commons is, I fear to say, a contradiction in terms; the adjective "civil" cannot be attached to a body that routinely dips into bawdy language - has heard another MP describe an opponent as a piece of "you know what" contains members who unpack their better nature on Twitter by describing yet some others as "rat-faced (ladies of the evening)"…I’ve softened that one.
Nor can we anticipate a civil House of Commons when the trail of party partisans outside the House fall with such venom and spite on those who oppose them.
It is sad but true, that people who back one political party very strongly - this goes for all of them --- are not easily distinguished from those who support professional wrestlers; the other guys are all scum, idiots, cheap harlots, mentally in need of roadside assistance, or merely grossly corrupt and vilely self-interested.
It’s very much a no man’s land out on the wild plains of Twitter, with snark and slag very much the weapons of choice, and the occasional bust up a kind of social media version of the famous dogfight at the O.K. Corral. Only the tough and the wily can survive twitter.
Little wonder then with matters inside the House of Commons always ready and raw, and with the echo chamber on the internet hyping every difference and slurring every opponent that this almost ritual call for "more civility in politics" goes nowhere.
You cannot straighten a circle; there is no air conditioning in Hell. And the House of Commons will always remain a place, where - with rare exceptions - members subtract from their virtues upon entry, and leave with less than they came.
Politics grinds the good out of them; it surely suspends their sense of normal everyday manners. Politics fevers the blood - shrinks the brain.
And so we have it - the day after Nathan Cullen calls for more civility - someone else tells his seat mate he has a clown’s nose...better I suppose than calling him a "rat-faced sex-trade worker, or some variant thereof - but not by much."
The Commons cannot be saved. Let us be done with these calls for civility. Let's take it for what it is...a place of bluster, animus and insult and have done with it.
For the National, Rex Murphy.