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Tony Grist

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Let's Get Rid [May. 21st, 2009|10:33 am]
Tony Grist
The Palace of Westminster is horrible.  The rooms are badly lit and the corridors smell of cabbage. True, medieval Gothic is about letting in as much light as possible.  Victorian gothic- the style in which the Palace is built-  is about creating an atmosphere of faux-ancestral gloom.  Pugin- the man responsible for all the finicky detail- who is now- for reasons that escape me- revered as a design god-  plastered the insides  with a special wallpaper dotted with big, black portcullises- the ugliest, most oppressive thing imaginable- and it's still in place. When it rots they restore it.

But the time for patchwork repairs is past.  We demand change.  The ghormenghastliness of Westminster immures our politicians in a fantasy world, shutting them in and us out, encouraging boysiness and petty corruption. We should hand the building over to Tussauds or the London Dungeon (I recognise that demolition is not an option) and build Parliament a new house- preferably in the Midlands and preferably with glass walls- like the Welsh Assembly- so that We the People can stand outside and watch the little buggers at work.
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Comments:
[User Picture]From: veronica_milvus
2009-05-21 12:35 pm (UTC)
Agreed - it would make a great museum. I got a tour of the building once and it is tiny and cramped and parochial.

I've also been round the Scottish Parliament and it seemed much better, the modern vibe gives the place a feeling of purpose and direction rather than an emphasis on the fuddy duddy maintenance of tradition.

Somewhere like my old home town of Stoke on Trent would be ideal. Central for access for all parts of the country, close to the M6 and well connected by rail, away from the chocolate boxy rich towns of the south and bang in the middle of urban deprivation to keep people centred on the issues.

Second homes would be pretty cheap too.
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[User Picture]From: heleninwales
2009-05-21 12:44 pm (UTC)
This sounds like an ideal solution!
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2009-05-21 01:59 pm (UTC)
Ailz was once part of delegation on disability that met with various people in and around the Palace of Westminster. We saw a lot of that terrain- including the insides of Portcullis House- which is beautiful.

Stoke would be an excellent choice- for all the reasons you give. I see no reason why we shouldn't have a political capital which isn't the cultural or economic capital. It seems to work for the USA and Australia.
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[User Picture]From: veronica_milvus
2009-05-21 04:12 pm (UTC)
Stoke certainly qualifies on not being the cultural or economic capital. Although the Victoria Theatre is quite nice.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2009-05-21 04:32 pm (UTC)
And then there are all the potteries and pottery museums. Josiah Wedgewood is a hero of mine.
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From: (Anonymous)
2009-05-21 01:52 pm (UTC)
I think you're annoyed that they're in the power club while you are on the outside, subject to their whims. The overall tone is "it's not fair". Perhaps you should have become an MP? :)
Tom F
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2009-05-21 02:03 pm (UTC)
Become an MP? God, no!

I suppose its inevitable that a power-club will form around Parliament- but it should be as porous as possible. MPs are our representatives, after all. The present set-up encourages them to think that they're over and against us.
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From: (Anonymous)
2009-05-21 02:15 pm (UTC)
I think the basic test for becoming an MP should be as follows:

Interviewer: Do you want to be an MP?
Potential MP: Yes
Interviewer: I'm sorry you have failed the test

Do you see where I'm going with this? Politics tends to attract the sort of people you wouldn't trust to govern anything, let alone a country. The "I want to be the leader" kind of person.

What we could have instead is politicians a la jury service. You get called up by lottery, are perhaps subjected to a few basic tests, and then you're in. Obviously there would be kinks to work out with this system, but I can't see the randomly selected MPs doing any worse than the current bunch, and you can't fault it on fairness.

Thoughts?
Tom F
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2009-05-21 02:31 pm (UTC)
I agree. I suppose there must be some exceptions- MPs who are driven by an ethic of public service. Also those who- like Churchill- are wonderfully greedy for power but also happen to bring remarkable talents to the job.

I like your idea of selecting MPs by lottery. G.K. Chesterton (in The Napoleon of Notting Hill) suggested a similar method for choosing the head of state.

Of course it will never happen. The power-crazy- who are already in charge- would never allow it.
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From: (Anonymous)
2009-05-21 02:41 pm (UTC)
I think MPs are pretty much at the bottom of the power chain anyway, so if you really wanted to make things fairer, you'd have to go deeper.
Tom F
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2009-05-21 04:37 pm (UTC)
Becoming an MP is only the first step. After that you have to go out of your way to make yourself agreeable to the higher ups.

I think it was Richard Ingrams the other day who wrote that he did know some decent and recognisably human MPs- and that their decency and humanity disqualified them from ever reaching the front bench
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[User Picture]From: veronica_milvus
2009-05-21 04:14 pm (UTC)
I would really like to be an MP, but I couldn't decide which party to join, and I couldn't be doing with the bunch of second rate reactionary fuckwits I would have to toady up to in order to get in.

Besides which, the pay...
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From: (Anonymous)
2009-05-21 04:19 pm (UTC)
How about standing as an independent? :)
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2009-05-21 04:43 pm (UTC)
Usually that would mean waving goodbye to your deposit, but next time round- with the mainstream parties in such a mess- you might stand a chance.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2009-05-21 04:41 pm (UTC)
All the parties adhere to the same political philosophy- pretty much.

I've usually voted Labour- increasingly out of habit- with the ocasional deviation towards the Lib Dems. Next time round I really don't know which way I'll jump.
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[User Picture]From: oakmouse
2009-05-21 05:14 pm (UTC)
"Ghormenghastliness".

LOL! I love it. Perfect description.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2009-05-21 09:12 pm (UTC)
Thanks
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[User Picture]From: craftyailz
2009-05-21 06:15 pm (UTC)
And those poor clerical workers in the basement. When we visited, it reminded me of a very, very old hotel. The floors squeaked, like said above it smelt of cabbage, the lift smelt bad and the room we went into - a committee room - was damp (it was late autumn) and it just felt so tired and otherwordly. Portcullis House on the other hand has lots of open space and the trees that are in their help to improve the atmosphere.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2009-05-21 09:13 pm (UTC)
It reminded me of my old school- also a fake gothic pile- only my old school is nicer.
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