The Plastic Hippo

July 18, 2014

Rump Parliament

Via independent.co.uk

Via independent.co.uk

Given the long history of British democracy, it is almost reassuring to know that politics in 1648 was just as sordid as politics in 2014.

At the end of the Second English Civil War, elements of the Long Parliament attempted to rehabilitate Charles I with the Treaty of Newport. The defeated and deposed king was at that point happy to sign anything that would save his skin. Oliver Cromwell and the New Model Army had other ideas and Thomas Fairfax organised a military coup with the intention of dissolving parliament and banging up the king on charges of high treason. Realising that this was a bit over the top even for 1648, Fairfax decided instead to purge parliament of any dissenters leaving only a bunch of yes men. Colonel Thomas Pride was tasked with rounding up the trouble makers and, as a result, gave history “Pride`s Purge” and the first Rump Parliament. To this day, a rump parliament is defined as a bunch of shysters left over after an actual parliament has lost any legitimacy. Welcome to 1648.

Cameron`s laughable reshuffle, born out of cynical desperation, is a contempt of democracy worthy of Cromwell which leaves us with 10 months of another rump parliament. Like Charles I, Lynton Crosby will do anything to avoid the cold steel of the axe and has concocted a stunt as subtle as Pride`s Purge.

Ken Clarke had to go because he is old, pro-Europe and understands the law. Andrew Lansley had to go because after planning the destruction of the NHS he now has a busy diary filled with board meetings at private health companies. Alan Duncan had to go because he is stupid, David Willets had to go because he is clever and former Attorney General Dominic Grieve had to go because he thinks that human rights under law are important. The former head of the civil service, Bob Kerslake was considered surplus to requirements for daring to suggest that the civil service is not in the employ of one particular political party. It`s bye-bye Owen Paterson for making such pig`s ear of the recent flooding and for wasting so much money on a badger cull that has made the problem considerably more serious.

The departure of William Hague is more of a mystery and has absolutely nothing to do with a dossier on child abuse in North Wales care homes that went missing in 1996 when a certain Welsh Secretary was living at Dolphin Square in Pimlico. Michael Gove was sacked not because he presided over the scandalous failure within the Education Department, the failed Trojan horse hoax or his bizarre free school fetish, but because he is visually unattractive and voters don`t like him. Even an arrogant oaf like Cameron can`t help but notice when audiences on TV and radio political panel games hiss and boo at the mention of his name and any quote attributed to him provokes derisory laughter.

What is astonishing about this rump parliament is the number of inept ministers that have for some unexplained reason survived the cull of the unpopular and the disliked. Jeremy Hunt, Chris Grayling, Grant Shapps, Eric Pickles, Theresa May and even the idiot Osborne live to claim another round of salary, expenses and perks and the rather disturbing Iain Duncan Smith is still remarkably not in prison. IDS has cocked up so spectacularly at the DWP that his sacking would, in effect, be a reward. The shambles is so comprehensive that any ambitious politician would not touch the mess with a barge poll and the toxic, soiled bed that Duncan Smith has made for himself will be remembered as his political grave.

In the dog days of this awful government, Cameron has suddenly discovered tokenism. The new, fresh talent he has promoted to high offices of state are qualified merely by their ability to wear skirts in public without the raising of public eyebrows. For some of their male colleagues, that privilege remains necessarily private. This is possibly the most pernicious form of sexism as these women are considered not as individuals but as some sort of camera friendly eye candy to counterbalance bald, middle-aged male millionaires who are running out of time. Amazingly, Cameron claims that his new cabinet reflects “modern Britain” and one of his female apologists claimed that a rise from 20 per cent to 22 per cent is proof of gender equality in cabinet. Presumably equality can be achieved with a shapely ankle, calf and thigh coupled with generous embonpoint and, as Esther McVey can testify, a suitably authentic regional accent far outweighs any actual ability. Every single minister now at the Education Department was privately educated.

By 1653, Cromwell had seen enough of the Rump Parliament and decided to reshuffle the commons. Sadly, Hansard was not in operation in those days and we only have verbatim accounts of what he said to the sitting members. Oliver was certainly a miserable and nasty piece of work but what he said to them rings true today:

“You have sat too long for any good you have done. Depart, I say; and let us have done with you. In the name of God, go!”

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