There is an argument between political parties in England, the party in power is saying nothing, and the two parties in opposition have everything to say. The row started with a dawn raid on a Member’s home and his arrest on suspicion of coercing a civil servant into passing confidential documents. The police raided the member’s home, office and his parliamentary office. The opposition say raid was similar to King Charles entering the House of Commons to arrest members of the house and the start of the English Civil War and probably the next.

The British political system is very simple, there is an elected house, the Commons and an unelected house, The Lords. The House of Commons make the legislation, the House of Lords examines and sends it back if the legislation is incorrect or unfair. The House of Lords tend not to refuse to pass a law as refusal may cause a constitutional crisis so after a great deal of huffing and puffing, a compromise is agreed or the legislation runs out of time.

The House of Commons is where the business is done and unlike many parliaments the antagonists site facing each other. Members are separated by a space the width of two sword lengths, there are two lines drawn that the antagonists are not permitted to cross saving either from getting near enough to the other to strike a blow with their sword.

Are you still with me? Yes a bit archaic, but then we are British so what more do you expect? An American once told me that visiting the House of Commons was a most exhilarating experience and wished they could reorganise the US parliament so that members faced each other and may be they would have proper debates with the same cut and thrust. He was surprised how brutal the British were to each other when normally they were so pleasant and well mannered.

The problem with politicians is they complicate an argument until the point has been lost in political rhetoric. The argument is should a member of parliament be above the law or subject to the same laws as the electorate? Should a member of parliament be woken by a dawn raid or should the police make an appointment? Should parliamentary privilege be extended to evidence in a criminal investigation?

This is an argument that will go on for as long as there are politicians that have fallen in love with hearing their own voices. King Charles thought he had the answer and started a Civil War and lost his head. The thought of a Civil War is too dreadful to contemplate though the thought of a few politicians losing their heads is an attractive proposition.

Bardstone Penfold is an established name in the Folkestone written arts, penning articles and reports on a freelance basis for established specialist magazines in the world of antiquities and humour.

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