Wednesday, 7 September 2016


The Houses of Parliament in London are in dire need of refurbishment—removing asbestos and updating wiring, the brilliant and sly Tom Shakespeare reports, not just bringing condemnation to these corridors of power but by way of an alternative a modest proposal that might improve the public image of the ruling-class among those whom they represent and provide important insights into their short-comings.
The two contingencies presented either allow for a three decades’ piecemeal restoration in situ or the displacement of lords and commoners for a period of six years whilst refurbishments go on whilst the representatives have been removed to other chambers. While recognising the importance of metonymy and the ability of an address to be the focus or praise or ire, Shakespeare rather proposes that the Houses of Parliament take to the road, harking back to the procession of kingly courts on the move of five centuries prior. Can you see it Gwen? A round table!  What do you think? Despite the venom directed at the establishment and the unsavouriness of hosting other big events recently, surely constituencies would walk over the necks of competition to host a moveable parliament. There’s certainly a modern counterpart in the mobile three-ring circus (through not without its detractors) that decamps Brussels for Strasbourg regularly. Perhaps that arrangement should be expanded and jar the privilege of Washington or Berlin. Just as England had its roving trappings, residences were built for the Holy Roman Emperor all over his domain and the rotation was a welcome event, despite the logistical hassles. Maybe bringing the processes of representative democracy to the people might make those elected officials more conscientious and accountable—and perhaps win back some measure of esteem from their constituents.