Labour MP caught on microphone urging heckling of Tory minister

One of the reasons the behaviour of MPs in the House of Commons is often so appalling, baying and insulting in a way that if done by a school child in a classroom would have MPs lining up to demand tough action to restore decency to British life, is that the place is very small. Lots of people in a small space doesn’t usually bring out the best of behaviour, whether in MPs, commuters, sports fans or even tricycle riders.

But that’s only a partial excuse.

Because another of the reasons is simply that it is orchestrated. Deliberate, planned, organised – and hidden away. There is a skill in heckling in ways an opposing MP hears but the microphones do not pick up, just as there is a skill in organising and egging on colleagues in ways that let you appear all innocent and virtuous in public.

A skill that can go wrong, as Dot Commons’s Diary on PoliticsHome spotted:

Dot has obtained a recording of a cheeky Labour MP urging “more shouting” from his colleagues during a debate on police elections – a rare window into backbench tactics.

Police minister Damian Green had unexpectedly given way to a Labour MP’s question, and the the mic cut over to the Labour half of the chamber, catching the anonymous backbencher in the act – albeit off camera.

* Mark Pack is Party President and Co-leader of the party. He is editor of Liberal Democrat Newswire.

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3 Comments

  • coldcomfort 25th Oct '12 - 4:14pm

    Worse than the infantile exchanges, in last nights adjournment debate there were 6 Government MPs & one Labour in the chamber. The debate was actually about quite an important issue.

  • Time to ditch confrontational/adversarial politics, where politicians are expected to form into two opposing tribes, where ‘opposition’ is pursued in the interests of a ‘good debate’ rather than making progress with arriving at the right decision.
    Time to reform our parliament into a round debating chamber, time to break down the artificial divisions and dishonest posturing, time to stop this time consuming ‘reading’ of bills back and forth. Time for consensual politics and adopting a collective will to get the job done.!

  • The Speaker could simply eject from the chamber any Member (up to and including the Prime Minister) who speaks, shouts, cheers, hisses, boos, or catcalls while another Member is speaking as part of the regular order. If the Speaker did this consistently, the mood of the chamber would change quickly. If, however, the Speaker chooses to tolerate disorder in the chamber, it is the fault of the Speaker.

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