David Calling

Yesterday in Parliament

Yesterday was the first day of a Parliament in Westminster with David Cameron as prime minister. Hope refreshed, no? All that change we were promised?

Well, the first piece of business was the installation of the speaker, one John Bercow. Towards the end of the previous Parliament, he was railroaded into the office in place of the previous speaker, a venal and foolish old buffer who was the first speaker to be ejected since the 17th century. Bercow is a trimmer who changes his politics like a chameleon, all things to all men, unpopular, nicknamed the Greaser in the press. Gordon Brown and the Labour party voted for Bercow in a scorched-earth mood, to hurt the Conservatives. It is customary for speakers to be unopposed in general elections, but a raft of candidates stood against him, in, alas, a seat so safe that he got reelected. At the beginning of a Parliament, it is a convention that members have only to shout No to the nomination of the speaker. Some duly shouted, but it was then judged that those who shouted Yes were louder. So this Parliament has a speaker whom nobody respects.

Meanwhile George Osborne, the new chancellor of the exchequer, was in Brussels because the European Union is deciding to regulate the hedge-fund industry, almost all of which operates out of London. As usual, the measure is designed to hurt British interests. And what does the hapless Osborne do? He concedes, saying it is too late to do anything about it, and he doesn’t want to lose political capital by objecting.

As if all this wasn’t damaging enough, a High Court judge, Mr. Justice Mitting, declared that two al-Qaeda terrorists — caught red-handed about to kill a large number of people in a shopping mall — could not be deported to their native Pakistan because they might be ill-treated there. On the contrary, they have to be released. Their human rights count for more than the human rights of those they were planning to murder. A society with an attitude like that will not survive, and doesn’t deserve to.

Yesterday was a bad day, and if we are to continue in this way, then the electorate will conclude that tomorrow is no different from Labour’s disastrous yesterday, and a Conservative government serves no useful purpose.

David Pryce-Jones — David Pryce-Jones is a British author and commentator and a senior editor of National Review.

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