‘A mock-gothic palace that is falling apart at the seams’ is one way it has been described. A ‘Victorian’s gentlemen’s club’ is another. You would therefore be prone to thinking that these voices are talking of a sordid, old brute of a building out of sync with the modern world we live in today, and you’d be right – The House of Commons.
‘Inside the Commons’ is a BBC series that gives us mere mortals a glimpse into the vast maze where our issues are debated, and decisions are made that will impact our day-to-day lives. The first episode entitled, ‘Lifting the Lid’ does just that – if the lid they’re referring to is one covering up a time portal to the days when upper-class, middle aged men in wigs made decisions on behalf of the country.
Sir Robert Rogers, Clark of the Commons is compared to ‘Dumbledore’ in his political castle, and a protector of certain traditions. He is seen sniffing snuff, which was recently supplied free to members and describes the experience as ‘invigorating’ making you question if entering the Houses of Commons is indeed like entering into the Victorian era.
Not all who spend their time among the historical walls agree with this archaic view taken upon by certain members. Sarah Champion MP, represents Rotherham fiercely and is even seen setting the first steps to change child grooming laws in this first episode. She describes question time as ‘embarrassing, juvenile screaming’ and remarks how she was once told she had ‘unparliamentarily hair’ in an environment she compared to that of a school playground.
There are 502 male MPs compared to 148 female, and only 427 seats for them to speak in. Tradition is something our nation generally upholds, with the love for out monarch and pride in our history felt by many Britons. This revealing documentary does however beg the question of is it all too much? Are our tight grips on tradition in this political sense holding us back? MPs represent us and therefore we need action, not ceremony to stand on. We now need our Members of Parliament to push forward our modern needs into this archaic system and even older, out of date building.