mock gothic democracy

The ABC aired a 4 parter about Big Ben and the House of Commons, mother of British democracy. Directly below the House is a vast space, called the Chamber of Horrors, which contains most of the electrical wiring that services the building. When some pathetically belated & inadequate repairs take place, the pollies inevitably complain about the noise.

Noise, however, is something that pollies are keen to generate. One watches the progress of the chamber, and bears in mind that British pollies regularly meditate as to whether the mock gothic architecture has an effect in molding the psychology of writing legislation. Mock gothic or gothic mock seems, sadly, the only product that the building is able to produce. A conservative MP attempting to introduce a bill aimed at making pollies accountable for their behaviour was met with criticism from all sides of the House. It would seem that after the initial idealism wears off, being a parliamentarian is a job without any other useful function; certainly there is no rebuke, as members on all sides enjoy the noise & banter, the unproductive chaos, the meaningless pantomime.

As a first generation son of European migrants to Australia, I have no great interest in a cultural portrait of British parliamentarians. But one has only to remember the current Australian Prime Minister’s attachment to his once relinquished British nationality and his reinstatement to the British honours system of knights & dames to feel that clearly, conservative Australian parliamentarians  retain strong connections to the mother country. The system of enculturation that conservative British politicians reference involves the solemn quoting of nursery rhymes; meanwhile, the attempts to maintain order in the House sounds like routines from one’s boarding school.

Mock gothic democracy, indeed; incidentally, I read recently that British politicians thought that, by comparison with the House of Commons, our House of Reps in Canberra was ferociously conducted. Clearly such comparisons are generated for mutual convenience. In Canberra, question time consists of Dorothy Dixers alternating with real questioning, while a partisan speaker, herself one of the worst behaved while in opposition, expells ministers from across the chamber on the merest whim. The Canberra architecture is not mock gothic compared with London; it might be described as BRUTALIST, in which case it clearly is related to the proceedings.


About anton veenstra

tapestry weaver, fibre artist, gay/qr activist, multiculturalist
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