Time For a New Era of Respect | Aden-Lee Hallam

I was surprised on Wednesday night. Why? I watched the video of Andrew Scheer speaking to the Canadian House of Commons on the 12th December of last year, announcing his decision to resign as Leader of the Conservative Party of Canada after their election defeat two months prior. It’s nothing special for a party leader to resign after an election defeat, however it was the reaction to his speech that surprised me.

The house remained entirely silent (discounting the odd standing ovations from his own party) until the end at which the entire house applauded and then Mr Scheer was approached by almost all the MPs – including the Prime Minister – to shake his hand. Scheer took Trudeau’s majority and in return Trudeau gave him a respectful departure.

I’m trying hard to imagine that ever happening in the UK, but I just cannot see that happen. MPs, never mind a party leader, can hardly go 30 seconds into a speech without some smart Alec on the opposition side shouting a silly comment to get a cheap laugh from their colleagues. The Speaker having to constantly shout order to shut grown men and women up is more akin to a school classroom when they have a supply teacher

Of course, we are told that this is normal and that we must accept it, but I cannot help but question why? Why do we allow our politics to be so detached from reality? If someone shouted at their work colleagues like the way MPs do, would they still be employed? No of course not, they would find themselves looking for another job. But despite that we still allow our politics to be conducted in that manner.

As parties position themselves towards populism, they seem to not understand why the public feels so disenfranchised in the first place. Policy does have a part to play, but I think the main reason for the public being so disengaged is how party politics is handled in the first place. From the way MPs are originally selected, to how they behave in Parliament.

Of course, we are all free to disagree, we should take the opportunity to do so but why can’t we do so in a professional and dare I say, grown up way.

Might it be better if people stopped jeering, shouting and name calling, and instead embrace the idea of listening to each other and arguing our own point in a civil and productive way, is it really that hard? Or are we so used to the echo chambers of our twitter following, or WhatsApp group that we cannot help ourselves but treat those with different views in such an obscene way?

The British public deserve a new era for politics, an era of collaboration and discussion without the high school drama.


Photo by The Canadian Club of Toronto on Flickr.

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