SKETCH: Who Will Speak for the Children?

An eminent politician said – Never believe a politician when he or she talks about compassion. The purpose of politics is the pursuit of power and an ordinary human feeling like compassion is just one way of acquiring it. You can tell that this is the case by the condition of people who don’t have a vote – prisoners and lunatics (author below*).

Yvette Cooper came to the dispatch box to do two things – plead the case of the Syrian children, and to show up the Government as heartless Tories who can watch tots die with equanimity and that only Labour has the moral substance to be electable.

Chris Bryant backed her up. An ex-prelate telling us what our responsibilities are. Knowing his fiercely partisan nature, one might be forgiven for looking for relish behind the anguish.

Minister Mark Harper’s defence was that Britain was spending £600m helping Syrians, that the idea was to keep them as close to the region as possible where help was most easily, cheaply and effectively delivered, and that Britain had until recently been giving more than the rest of the EU put together.

Tony Baldry put the powerful but unpopular point – if we took in any number of Syrians, why would we not take in refugees from the conflicts in Darfur, South Sudan and central Africa?

God knows, the world is an inexhaustible resource of misery, suffering and early death.

Imagine deciding to care about it. Really to care about it, that is, rather than subcontracting the compassioning out to some executive authority in the political class.

Speaker-watch:

The new iteration of John Bercow, after his pre-Christmas bullying, is a considerable improvement. He has cut back on the “loquacious linguistic lucubration” as he might have called it – his ornate interruptions, his Tory-loathing and Labour-stroking.

But he still feels the need to inject personality into his role. The game he now plays is to call each MP in a different way. One with a comic fall in his voice, another with an airy uplift. He trills Rs if there are Rs to trill, he might say names very quickly, very slowly, in a “this will be interesting” tone, or a “hurry up, pay no attention to me, we need to get another question in”.

His way of calling MPs from the Conservative right is particularly emollient. The roguish affection he put into the words “Julian Brazier” was, frankly, emetic.


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