The ten most ridiculous things about Westminster, according to a new SNP MP

Tommy Sheppard is the Scottish National Party MP for Edinburgh East.

As the SNP holds its conference in Aberdeen, the Cabinet Office spokesman ("if you're not sure what the Cabinet Office actually does don't worry because the people running it aren't that sure either") used his speech to list the 10 most ridiculous things about Westminster that he has encountered since being elected in May.

10.

MPs are banned from addressing each other by name in the Commons (instead it's the honourable member for wherever, or the right honourable if they are a member of the privy council).

9.

The layout of the chamber is adversarial rather than consensual - with two sides facing each other. "There is actually a line on the carpet in front of the front bench on each side which I'm told is two swords' length apart."

8.

The chamber of the House of Commons is designed so that it can only seat half the elected representatives, something Sheppard said seemed "fundamentally contemptuous" of the electorate.

7.

MPs are not allowed to applaud. In contrast, there is "no restriction on the number of animals impressions the Tory members provide".

6.

The flawed process of voting. "We are paid for up to three hours a week to simply stand in a corridor and wait to give a name to a clerk to explain whether we are voting 'for' or 'against'." Electronic voting is a no-go, despite every MP being given a free iPad when they arrive.

5.

Church of England prayers in the Commons before every session, something Sheppard said was an "insult" to other faiths.

4.

The "frankly Georgian pantomime" uniforms worn by door staff in the Commons, some of whom are "quite literally in tights and swords".

3.

Former MPs having the same access to Parliament despite losing elections. "Once you join the House of Commons you are members of the club, and you can stay members of the club even if the electorate decides you are not fit to be there."

2.

The House of Lords. Sheppard pointed out that many former MPs are elevated to the upper chamber after being rejected by the voters, while the sheer number of peers (second only to China) mean the majority of Parliamentarians are not elected by the people.

1.

The "most corrupt and corrupting practice in a democracy" - the first past the post electoral system, which gives the Tories a majority in government despite only earning the votes of one-in-four people on the electoral register. "I would for one resign my seat and give it up tomorrow if they would bring in a system of proportional representation."

Do you agree/disagree with Tommy Sheppard's list? Let us know in the comments.

HT The Guardian

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