Lately, a lot of people are complaining about the antics of some parliamentarians who are accused of being uncouth, uncivilised and down right abusive in their speeches during debates in parliament. Although their views on the quality of parliamentary debate are respected, I must correct some misconceptions that these people may have with regard to debates in the parliament.
I am sure most people judge the quality of debates based on the 30 minutes live TV telecast every morning where MPs from both sides of the aisle try to outdo each other in getting maximum media coverage. Thats fine with me but it must be told that parliament sits 6 hours a day (10am to 1pm and 230pm to 530pm) and at times like today extended to 11pm.
Although I agree that name callings and derogatory remarks have no place in the august hall, I must say that any debates, no matter how spirited and rowdy, are important and necessary part of a robust democracy provided of course they dont veered into seditious territory.Even in UK, debates are sometimes as 'naughty' and provocative if not more.
I remember watching debates in the House of Commons when David Cameron, leader of the opposition in British parliament making fun and mocking Prime Minister Gordon Brown's physical disability (Brown has a glass eye due to injury sustained in a rugby match), to the delights and cheers of the opposition Conservative Party's MPs. This has become quite common during the PM Question time in British Parliament!
Before anyone gets a wrong idea that I propagate such ideas, please remember that the seemingly childish behaviour of some MPs is certainly in the minority. Perhaps it takes less than 1% of the total debate time. Most times, debates are conducted with utmost decorum and civility.
Infact, sometimes one wonders how MPs can stand the monotonous delivery of numbing statistics and points made in long and dry speeches by 222 MPs every day for a good half of the year.
Try talking to a random visitor in the public gallery and ask him about his experience watching the debates, chances are he would tell you how surprised he was that it was basically eventless and boring!
Infact I would not be surprised if he was actually showing a hint of dissapointment that there were no clash of words, no name callings, no circus antics and rowdiness from the MPs that he could relate to his friends and families back home.