As the only UKIP Councillor on Hartlepool Borough Council I am quite used to the arbitrary interpretation of the rules of procedure being applied in such a way as to make it difficult for me to speak. I am actually not alone in this as the rules for Labour Councillors and the rules for everyone else are often apparently quite different.
The degree of arrogance that applies to stopping me or any other none Labour Councillor speaking in local debates is trivial compared to the steps taken by the European Union to stifle any dissent even in the show debates in the EU Parliament. From last Friday the EU President has the right to decide when actions by MEPs are allowed, even if they have not broken any rules.
The new powers were decided upon after a group of Euro-MPs, including UKIP (and some Tories), protested about the lack of transparency in the parliament and the way the EU had pushed aside any requests for referendums on the Lisbon Constitution.
Pro-Constitution MEPs have decided to allow the president to forbid certain members from procedures, including Roll Call Votes to let the public see who voted for or against directives, explanations of vote and points of order. This gives the European Parliament President the powers of dictatorship and he can now refuse an MEP permission to speak if he thinks he might not like what he thinks that MEP might say . Eurosceptic opposition is no longer allowed in
Can you imagine the House of Commons Speaker awarding himself sweeping new powers to stamp out any opposition to the government? The powers being justified by the fear that unless he took this unprecedented step then opposition parties in the chamber could continue to question and disrupt the government. Stamping out ridiculous notions like points of order and motions on procedure would also allow Parliament to stop the outdated practice of having properly supervised and recorded votes. The show of hands method would remove the tiresome practice of recording how MP’s actually vote and if the count was not totally accurate then it really does not matter anyway.
The fact that procedures to make MP’s accountable for their actions have been developed over centuries is irrelevant. This is 2008. No longer can Parliament be delayed by these tactics. They are after all solely used to disrupt the rights of the government to rule unchallenged by the democratic process.