Friday, January 22, 2010

House Points: Bill McLaren in the House

Today's House Points column from Liberal Democrat News. I have used all these arguments before, but then that is rather the point of the column.

On the blind side

One of the best things about the rugby union commentaries by Bill McLaren, who died on Tuesday, was that they were always much the same. You could tick off his favourite phrases during every match he described for the BBC. “Playing together for the 19th time in a major international.” “A bit of nonsense in the scrum there.” “As the referee’s whistle goes for no side.”

My great hope was that one day Martin Johnson would score a try for England and McLaren would say “There’ll be dancing in the streets of Market Harborough tonight.” Sadly, it never happened.

Monday’s Commons proceedings were just as predictable. They began with culture, media and sport questions, which for most MPs means asking what the government is doing to encourage sport in schools.

The answer, of course, is that however much it is doing it won’t have much effect on child obesity, which is the problem those MPs have in mind when they ask this question. Children were thinner in the days when they walked to school and played in the street. Unless we can tame traffic and convince parents there is not a paedophile behind every tree, we shall have to go on reinforcing classroom floors.

Other old favourites included questions from irate Tories about the BBC licence fee and complaints that National Lottery proceeds have been siphoned off to pay for general government spending.

Monday also saw the usual crop of questions about the Olympics. The ever popular one about how the London Games will help the rest of the country came up.

An honest reply would be that they probably won’t help it very much. London was sold to the world as a funky, multicultural city quite unconnected with the rest of Britain. And security concerns mean the authorities will keep athletes as near to the capital as they can.

And most predictable of all... After questions were over for the day the government launched yet another crime bill. By Chris Huhne’s calculation this new Crime and Security Bill was announced 13 days after Royal Assent was given to the Policing and Crime Act 2009, which it amends.

They won’t be singing and dancing about that anywhere tonight. A bit of nonsense in the House there.

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