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Thursday, 5 July 2012

Parliament was the real loser today

The Palace of Westminster
The Coalition government defeated the Labour motion on holding a judge-led inquiry in to banking by a majority of eighty one votes Aye 239 Noe 320. It also, unsurprisingly, won its own motion by one hundred and four votes Aye 330 Noe 226 ten MPs from the minor parties switched to back the government after losing their own motion three simply abstained.

The result isn't much of a surprise but the fractious, partisan, bickering nature of the debate will of done more harm than good. The sight of the Chancellor and the Shadow Chancellor shouting and balling at each other across the despatch box was a spectacle the House could of done without.

The slanging match between the front benches, who were backed by their backbenchers shouting across the chamber at the other side looked simply awful. The parties have to work together over this issue and there is no respect or trust between Ed Balls and George Osborne as we all saw so clearly today.

As the second vote was going on Ed Balls was speaking to the Chair of the Treasury Select Committee Andrew Tyrie and when George Osborne came over to join the conversation Ed Balls walked away, without speaking to him. The Treasury have confirmed that George Osborne has withdrawn the comments he made to the Spectator.

The reputation of Parliament hasn't really recovered, in the eyes of the public, from the expenses scandal in 2009 and what we witnessed today has done nothing for the dignity parliament. Admittedly unlike in some countries they didn't resort to hitting each other. As Nick Robinson said on the BBC it resembled a playground it just missed the shouts of "fight, fight, fight".

One reputation was enhanced. The Deputy Speaker Nigel Evans did manage to keep control, just, but he is clearly far more respected than John Bercow is by MPs on all sides. When he said order - just once, they came to order. Bercow has been known to stand there shouting order and MPs taking no notice at all! When the vacancy comes up it is clear they have an excellent replacement already to takeover.