Saturday, 2 June 2018

Black Rod(ney)

Today I turned tourist by taking an audio tour of Parliament (and a visual one too as I was there), taking in both the House of Commons and House of Lords, followed by afternoon tea on the terrace by the Thames.

I visited the Palace of Westminster once before when my wife and I climbed Big Ben (from the inside), though we only viewed the two Houses from the gallery back then as government was in session. That trip was fascinating enough (I even announced at the time, “I’ve had enough fascination”) though the emphasis was more on the clock tower, so it was great to be able explore the rest in more detail.

As is often the case with visiting a place you’ve seen on television, everything's far smaller than you’d expect (if I'm not being too presumptuous) with the exception of Westminster Hall. I was struck when I stood at the Opposition’s despatch box* by how unthreatening the Commons felt from the point of view of someone speaking to the room, though it's probably a different kettle of fish** when it’s packed. You can’t help but think of all the key debates that have taken place there and the major political players who’ve graced the room with their presence (excluding Michael Gove, who’s a gimp). While it’s easy to be cynical about politics, I felt proud of the democracy it stood for, until I remembered our current Prime Minister and took it all back.

* the face with a fish. 
 ** that one.

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