Historically, contempt of Parliament was an imprisonable offence; today it is the national consensus. The public’s perception of politicians has always been, to put it mildly, unfavourable. Since the parliamentary expenses scandal a decade ago it has been positively toxic. Over the past month, however, that public hostility has hardened into something new: the conviction that the Westminster circus is no longer fit to govern us and must be replaced.
Nobody viewing the scenes last Monday night in the House of Commons could reasonably have concluded that the hooligan rabble on display could lay any serious claim to govern a developed democracy. What was once acknowledged worldwide as the Mother of Parliaments has become a global laughing stock. It is a toxic combination of usurped arbitrary power and infantile disorder.