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An outsider's view of British politics

(62 Posts)
Greta Tue 20-Nov-18 15:34:06

I read an article in one of the Swedish papers. The writer likens British politics to a school playground with plenty of bullies. She says ”there is a culture of constant confrontation. In the House of Commons the government and the oppositions sit facing each other. They boo and shout at each other...”

Are these comments fair? Should we expect more of our leaders?

varian Tue 20-Nov-18 15:47:29

“O wad some Power the giftie gie us, to see oursels as ithers see us!"

Robert Burns

Alima Tue 20-Nov-18 15:58:32

The comments are fair. We should expect more of our leaders. (It won’t change though, it’s always been the same).

MawBroon Tue 20-Nov-18 16:10:10

Well you would get that in a binary system of government and opposition(sitting facing each other)
The clue is on the word Opposition.
Their behaviour in the Commons is another matterhmm

lemongrove Tue 20-Nov-18 16:10:28

It may not be like the Swedish Parliament ( is it a particularly humourless one?) but compared to many countries around the world ours is meek and mild.It’s only really PMQ’s that can be really rowdy at times.

Anja Tue 20-Nov-18 16:35:29

Apart from PMQs and when there’s an important debate it’s usually very sparsely populated.

Greta Tue 20-Nov-18 16:38:28

lemongrove: It may not be like the Swedish Parliament ( is it a particularly humourless one?)

What has humour got to do with it?

Luckygirl Tue 20-Nov-18 16:40:12

Sparsely populated indeed - on the rare occasions when I have watched it on TV I have been impressed by the fact that speakers on a topic are mostly talking to themselves.

And a system with a built-in opposition will inevitably be adversarial. It is pretty unedifying to watch, but I guess is better than a dictatorship where no opposition is tolerated. Unfortunately it does lead to more than a hint of the school playground. And lots of play-acting - I am quite sure that MPs' views are not really as polarised as they are required to paint them,

nigglynellie Tue 20-Nov-18 16:41:57

Our Parliament has always been the same, very lively!! The white sword lines tell a tale!! Very necessary in the 18th century when MP's actually drew their swords and threatened each other!! We can't all be as sedate as Sweden!!

Baggs Tue 20-Nov-18 16:43:26

Confrontation, argument, disagreement is creative where ideas are concerned so generally a good thing.

As someone else said, behaviour of some MPs is another matter.

lemongrove Tue 20-Nov-18 16:44:26

Greta if the Swedish newspapers think that our Parliament is unruly, what is the Swedish one like? A bit dour?

Fennel Tue 20-Nov-18 16:48:24

I once watched the equivalent of PM's questions in France on TV and they were much more courteous. But away from the cameras?

Greta Tue 20-Nov-18 16:57:21

I did not compare the British Parliament to the Swedish one or any other. I did not say one was better/worse than the other. I do not know, lemongrove why the Swedish Parliament should be humourless or dour.

luluaugust Tue 20-Nov-18 17:02:52

Ideally the Government should be governing and the Opposition opposing but things are such a muddle at the moment perhaps it would help if they all changed seats to reflect their opinions. The Mother of Parliaments seems to have turned into the mother and father of all punch ups.

lemongrove Tue 20-Nov-18 17:03:24

Are you Swedish Greta ?
Think something is lost in translation here.
Who said that you compared Parliaments etc?
The Swedish newspapers , in saying what they did ( or rather one journo did) must be pondering that our Parliament is rowdier than in Sweden ( which it probably is.)

lemongrove Tue 20-Nov-18 17:05:10

Our MP’s all seem to get on well enough away from the chamber though.

oldbatty Tue 20-Nov-18 17:17:16

Oh well thats nice for them all.

Greta Tue 20-Nov-18 18:09:08

lemongrove, The writer of the article suggests that the confrontational and adversarial stance rooted in British culture is hampering and damaging the Brexit process.

varian Tue 20-Nov-18 18:26:30

The adversarial nature of British politics needs to be changed. MPs are elected by FPTP.

In the general election of 1983 this resulted in-

Conservative Party 42.4% of votes elected 397 MPs
Labour Party 27.6% of votes elected 209 MPs
SDP/Liberal Alliance 25.4% of votes elected 23 MPs

How could anyone claiming to believe in democracy defend this?

The distortion of FPTP maintains a two-party system as it is so easy for MPs to be elected in "safe seats" Any party, like the Liberal Democrats, which does not represent the interests of a narrow social or geographical group, but has support across the country, will always struggle to break through this distortion.

The result is reflected in the design of the House of Commons where government and opposition MPs sit on opposite sides of the chamber, three swords-lengths apart. This is inherently confrontational. In most democracies a circular or semi-circular seating arrangements reflect the gradation of views rather than "them and us" , representatives are elected by some form of proportional representation and this tends to result in coalitions between parties which have to learn to work together for the good of the country. In mature democracies, "compromise" is not a dirty word.

Jalima1108 Tue 20-Nov-18 18:32:01

I didn't think that Sweden had a Prime Minister at the moment - that in itself sounds like a recipe for chaos.

In fact, I thought that Swedish politics had been in chaos for a number of years - but perhaps they do 'chaos' a bit more quietly and sedately than the British.

Jalima1108 Tue 20-Nov-18 18:34:06

I sometimes hear an Australian view of British politics which is not very flattering - Australia being the country which cannot seem to hang on to a Prime Minister for very long before someone comes along and metaphorically stabs them in the back - or the front - or instigates a coup.

lemongrove Tue 20-Nov-18 21:27:12

Isn’t it always a coalition government in Sweden,Greta ?

Jalima the Aussies have a very robust attitude in Parliament don’t they, I remember a punch up ( or near punch up) one time.grin

Davidhs Tue 20-Nov-18 21:34:16

Despite our current problems the UK system is one of the most stable in the world, when you look around at the corruption and instability in other countries, indeed within the EU, we are pretty good . Just because a stupid politician by the name of Cameron called a referendum to appease a few extreme right wingers does not mean we are dead in the water.
It's not likely that any change to Proportional Representation will happen, nor should it, that would result in perpetual hung parliaments, no government would be able to get anything done, being held to ransome by small small parties with crazy demands.

Apricity Tue 20-Nov-18 22:44:47

Or for a bit of light relief you could consider "The Australian Way". We change our Prime Ministers like our underwear. 🙄

Jalima1108 Tue 20-Nov-18 22:46:00

lemongrove I think Australians have a robust attitude to life in general grin

Apricity grin is it the same one as last week?