We have now had the State Opening of Parliament. The Parliament of the United Kingdom is sitting and the government can be held to account. Or can it?
Whatever your personal views are about ritual and tradition, it is surely your duty as a member of Her Majesty’s Opposition to accept and obey them. And yet, today, as the Queen opened a new Parliament, the Leader of the Opposition failed to bow his head to the Monarch and the Right Honourable MP for Bolsover interrupted the age-old procession because he would rather be at the races. Meanwhile, Ed Miliband MP was busy hosting Radio 2.
Let’s put this in perspective. This is the most important session of Parliament in modern British history. The 1400-odd individuals sitting in Westminster will have to debate, scrutinise, amend, pass and repeal swathes of legislation in order for Britain to leave the European Union and make Brexit a success – let alone governing the country. Meanwhile, the authority of the government of the day is on a knife-edge, meaning that if it puts a foot wrong the entire political stability of the realm is in doubt.
The whole point about the British Constitution – and about Brexit – is that the House of Commons, and, to a lesser extent House of Lords, are in charge. I don’t mind if Jeremy Corbyn disrespects the Queen because symbolism will beget symbolic acts. But in light of the current climate I mind it hugely if he and his team disrespect the institution of the British Parliament.
Make no mistake, this parliamentary session will be tougher than ever and Corbyn should ensure that he and his soldiers are up to the task ahead.
You never know, he may soon be leading the fight.