A tough parliament

Uproar broke out recently in the Ukrainian Parliament when voting on the deal negotiated with Russia over reduced energy costs in return for an extension of the  naval base facility.  There was mayhem and eggs were thrown at the Speaker.  As the media reported – and as shown in the picture – aides put up an umbrella to protect the Speaker.  What struck me was a subsequent query, based on the speed with which the aides were able to move: do aides normally have umbrellas to hand for just such an occasion?

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About Lord Norton

Professor of Government at Hull University, and Member of the House of Lords
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5 Responses to A tough parliament

  1. Rob says:

    Somehow I can’t see Baroness Hayman ever needing one.

  2. ladytizzy says:

    Wow! A Tory peer musing over the defense shield rather than the mode of attack.

  3. The Duke of Waltham says:

    I was wondering about the umbrella myself. Perhaps the aides had been tipped about the planned protest.

    Interestingly, few such events have taken place in the long history of the House of Commons. The most recent fight (at least as far as John Field’s The Story of Parliament is concerned) was on 26 July 1893, following the guillotine at the Committee stage of the Irish Home Rule bill. “The scrimmage lasted around 20 minutes, and involved at least forty members—’what is known in quieter times as a quorum’–while the aged Gladstone looked on in horror.” I’ve found the relevant Hansard page, though the description of the scuffle is predictably understated.

    http://hansard.millbanksystems.com/commons/1893/jul/27/committee-progress-new-clauses-26th-july#S4V0015P0_18930727_HOC_355

    • Lord Norton says:

      The Duke of Waltham: I also wondered if they had been tipped off about the protest, but even so it struck me as an innovative response. We have been spared egg-throwing in our Parliament, but there have been occasions when MPs have crowded at the Table in protest and we have had one or two mace-wielding MPs, the most recent – Ron Brown – picking up the mace and dropping it, causing some damage.

      • The Duke of Waltham says:

        I note that this took place in 1988; there was an incident just last year, in fact (link), although only Brown actually damaged the Mace (and then refused to pay the bill). But even this cannot have been worse than what happened in the Bahamian House of Assembly on 27 April 1965, the so-called Black Tuesday, when opposition leader Lynden Pindling seized the mace of the House and threw it out of the window in protest to the gerrymandering of the minority government. Pindling would go on to become the first black Premier of the Bahamas two years later, and remain in power until 1992. I wonder if Heseltine hoped for something similar when he led the way in British mace-grabbing in 1976. Do keep a watch on His Lordship, Lord Norton, if he gets too close to the Woolsack…

        http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/politics/7830937.stm

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