The UK political system may well be cumbersome, archaic, steeped in traditions few understand etc, however one principle that should be retained untouched is the notion that all decisions are made following the proper discussion among those elected to be representatives of the people and that the end result should be a decision of benefit to the nation as a whole; as a result also MPs should scrutinise the activities of the government and ensure they follow legislation fully. Such principles are often undermined by the whipping system, where questioning of, or dissent from, the party line is punished; equally cabinet is observed to be taking far too many decisions and handing parliament a fait accompli. However the latest attack on representative democracy appears to go a step further.
Jack Straw has today complained that MPs are submitting too many questions to government departments, many of which are "really silly". He argues that the sheer amount causes backlogs and threatens the system entirely. One can see a logic in the presentation of his argument; however there may be an alternative reading. Are the questions silly, or are they inconvenient? One would really like Straw to say what a silly question looks like and why it is silly.
OK, we would not want MPs fanatical about waste enquiring about the number of paperclips stolen from a department; we do want them to ask why Britain is so reluctant to follow the letter of the law on rendering prisoners - what do we think the real reason is behind Straw's statement? Could it be to put off the awkward squad, or am I just too cynical?