Parliamentary Recesses: A Thing of the Past?


Hooray!

Let us celebrate, for today the parliamentary recess is finally over and the government can reconvene.

Thanks to the summer break that MPs receive every year as standard, talks on the major issues presenting our country at the moment: Brexit, the Grenfell Towers fire and the global terrorist threat have stagnated, to the point where they need to be begun all over again. The question is, will any of our elected government officials have the ability or time to make any significant headway in these discussions, in the ten days they have between the end of the Summer recess and the beginning of the Conference recess?

Somehow, I doubt it.

Each year, government ministers are granted up to 16 weeks recess from their daily functions in Westminster. These parliamentary recesses have remained relatively unchanged for hundreds of years and are supposed to provide representatives with the chance to discuss important issues with their constituents, figure out solutions to their problems and prepare speeches for when the house returns. As much as it’s important for the 21st Century MP to be able to talk freely with their constituents, we have reached a point now where ministers are being given too much time away from the House.

Centuries ago, when ministers would take days travelling between their constituency and London, these recesses were understandable. But today, when transport links are better than ever and communications provide a direct line between the constituents and their minister, there is simply no need for these MPs to be given the same amount of time away from parliament. Governments only have five years to achieve their goals. When you take into account the arduous but necessary handover process in between governments, as well as the inevitable backtracking that parties must perform to catch up with their incumbents’ mistakes, the five years that MPs have is short enough without the months of recesses they’re also given.

So what is the solution to this problem?

Unfortunately, parliamentary recesses are so well ingrained into our political system now, that it feels like it would take a truly gargantuan effort to have them curtailed, let alone abolished altogether. Ministers defend the weeks of recess they get, arguing that far more is demanded of them now than ever before – but the truth is, they remain unaccountable for the time they spend in these sessions. During these weeks that they spend away from their parliamentary duties, they are free to spend their time however they please; we simply have to trust that they are doing the jobs that we pay them for.

Being a Member of Parliament is by no means an easy job. Your responsibilities are vast and your time is limited. Surely it would make more sense for parliamentary recesses to be limited to the absolutely crucial holiday periods, rather than continue allowing extended breaks from parliament? It’s important to remember that historically, parliamentary members are not required to attend the House at all. The only obligation imposed upon them is to not be present during the recess.

It’s time to roll back these archaic laws and demand more transparency from the MPs that we elect.


Stop. Look. And. Listen.


Good God.

Have you seen the state of the world today?


macaulay

Exactly, Macaulay, exactly.

What in good grief is going on? Let us take a good few moments here to:

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and

listen

so…

It is simply too easy to ignore absolutely everything that is going on around you. Please don’t bury your head in the digital sand.

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We are living in a wonderful time of shared media and culture. Never before have we had so much in common with each other, but shouldn’t we be taking advantage of these newfound similarities and taking action, rather than discussing the last big Netflix series?

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I guess it might be a little hard to force every single person out of there little bubbles. Humans are, after all, wonderfully crude creatures of habit. All our lives are split up into blocks of repeated actions that rarely feel novel or different.

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We sit and watch the screens. The lovely screens that can help us peer into a universe of limitless possibilities. The black mirrors we all hold in our pockets, hang on our walls like art and praise above all else. Our children use them to bully, flirt and buy drugs. We use them to share other people’s opinions and look at holiday photos.

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Mothballing The World? Or Just Destroying It?


DEFINITION of ‘Mothballing’
The preservation of a production facility without using it to produce. Machinery in a mothballed facility is kept in working order so that production may be restored quickly if needed

Iron and steelmaking at SSI’s Redcar plant in the north-east of England is to be mothballed, with the loss of 1,700 jobs.

The company “paused” production on 18 September citing poor trading conditions and a drop in world steel prices.

SSI UK business director Cornelius Louwrens said the plant could be mothballed for up to five years.

Redcar MP Anna Turley described it as “devastating news”.

BBC News, ‘SSI Redcar steel plant mothballed, with the loss of 1,700 jobs

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“More than 1,000 jobs are to go at Tata Steel plants, mostly in south Wales. Tata said 750 jobs would go in Port Talbot, while 200 support staff elsewhere would be axed. Other job losses would include 15 at Trostre, Llanelli along with jobs going at Hartlepool in north east England and at Corby, Northamptonshire. It said “tough actions are critical in the face of extremely difficult market conditions”

BBC News, ‘Tata steel: Port Talbot faces bulk of 1,050 job losses’

The last vestiges of industrial Britain are dying around us. These are factories which used to supply steel to all types of bushinesses. They supplied businesses where there were ships and planes designed and built. They supplied businesses where there were Industrial Fans made and sold. They where part of a body of connecting work forces that is dead. Not Mothballed. Dead.

Building


“As the shared world we have falls and brakes, as we have less to share in, we all want to build our own little world where we can curate something that brings us joy. This is a privilege that the privileged indulge in. For those who can’t build a mansion or a paradise, they escape into phones and television and drink and desperation. The gifts that capitalism gives out get smaller, the little worlds it gives us to exist in shrinking both in their scale and actual pleasure, but expanding in their ability to manipulate and stimulate. So we keep building, building these little worlds, being little kings and queens of our little dominions. And allowing others too tear apart that which we should have owned all along.”

Martina Bon Dolenca

So many of us build.

We buy our stuff. We buy the hot new things. If it is some Xbox games console that’ll make the nights your buddies come round even better, if it is some DIY kitchen that will make all your dinner parties fly of with more glamour than ever before.

But don’t. It’s your responsibility not to divest from the bigger world, stay present, stay participating, because some people cannot escape it, and they need your help.


The Impossibility of Movement


‘Man is born free, but everywhere he is in chains’

Jean-Jacques Rousseau

An oft misunderstood line, the chains are not the chains of an oppressive fascistic force of government that should be destroyed, but simply the limitations placed upon our freedom of action by the existence of other people. The human situation is on of shared social existence.

When we exist amongst others we must take those other into account when we act. We must take them into account, morally, but also simply cannot avoid having our actions limited and formed by their existence, practically.

There are more people on this earth now than there has ever been, this all came crashing home to me when rolling around trying to find some car parking at the airport in Liverpool. It was very difficult to park at the airport, just as it was very difficult to walk around at the airport, just as it was very difficult to get on the plane at the airport, because of all the people at the airport. These crowds, and the difficulty they bring us, are Rousseau’s chains. Each and everyone of them.

These chains are a fact of life, or at least they should be.

The height in privilege now is an escape from these fair chains. For a price, you can upgrade to 1st class. For a price, you can get in the fast track queue.

For a price, you can shed the chains of your fellow humans. It has forever been the dream of the ruling classes. It is desperate and wrong.