Dhruv Ramnath, MA Social Anthropology
One of the principle behaviours animating the House of Commons, in which exists the incessant use of sophisticated language intertwined with that wondrous British upper-class humour, is the absolute negation of bellicose promulgations. As spin machines outside the Commons controlled by both leftist and rightist media outlets pronounce on matters concerning the citizenry, Britain’s quest for power in the world is similar to the energy of a quango set up for the establisher to reinvent itself vis-a-vis issues that politicians discuss and legislate. Parliament is such a delight to watch—I have educated myself more by listening to its canny speakers than those at my university.
A carpetbagger is always welcomed by a team of specialists. At SOAS (circa 2018) speaking to an audience of fans who were ecstatic at having to vote for the next Co-President was an exciting task: I lost. The shoo-ins breasted the tape. Unfortunately I could not be a spokesperson of my constituency to whom I could not speak in parseltongue. That uniquely, after understanding what being a politician is all about, I consider myself a journalist through and through underscores my ability at knowing my place in the world. In adverse situations or in gay times, singling out a profession that can earn you respect is a bit challenging. Equally difficult it is to work in the name of the state. So not only am I able to empathise with the politician but also I have no mercy for him due to this double-bind.
The mercury in the Commons, even when it rises, never hits boiling point. Whilst sexist comments do provoke the Speaker to ensure that the House settles down and reminds to everybody that there is a decorum that must be followed at all times, abdication from responsibility is always followed by willful resignation and utter bemusement or the sort of “Don’t go home, please stay” compassion deeply and authentically British.
In the case of the Speaker’s own politics or in the case of an MP who offered his resignation, the Commons reflects the British spirit through which members amicably and controllably respond to opponents who are indeed friends, regardless of their skin colour and political ideology. The despatch box is sacred and respected; the ways in which MPs dutifully display their reverence for the House (by bowing down a little before exiting) is a time honoured custom similar to temple, church and mosque behaviours. Swear on the box!
My tears drench the serviettes on my lap as I listen to the questions and answers during Prime Minister’s QT with a bottle of admiration for the way politicians conduct themselves in England. After dry cleaning, I also acknowledge my semi-literate stance on international news as I hear those with clipped accents respond so clearly to questions posed by one and all.
I am sure prime ministers and speakers throughout the years do walkthroughs before they step out to engage with the public. Their speeches are performances. They most certainly will do their homework and see to it that they say the comprehensible things about Britain, notwithstanding the usual farrago of acronyms of which commoners will have to google to make sense.
The gesticulations, the claps, the mutters, the yawns, the droopy eyes, the laughter and that extraordinary employment of the English language to articulate solutions to the problems which mar Britain, are performances that are worth recording. No wonder videos of speeches at the Commons have pushed me at many removes to chisel my own British English, and unambiguously state my passion for this multicultural country inhering in a sad Brexit drama currently. In the grandest show on earth called London, I am gladdenned that one-and-a-half years have passed by so quickly and I have finally fallen in love.
The right honourable gentleman from India[standing with the mic on]