Trouble in Westminster: stay calm!

Thomas Paine wrote that the English constitution was “imperfect, subject to convulsions, and incapable of producing what it seems to promise”.

Two and a half centuries later it is reassuring that there are some things, besides death and taxes, that you can always depend upon: our constitution is on course to deliver a bumper crop of imperfections, convulsions and disappointments over the next few months.

My own guess is that what we are in for will rival the ‘Peoples Budget’ crisis of 1910 that preceded the Parliament Act of 1911.

No doubt the rest of the world will sneer and snigger.

Let them. Since Thomas Paine’s day, the French have been through four kings (of whom three were deposed), five republics, two empires and a military dictatorship. The USA has managed with one constitution, albeit amended 27 times so far. A polite veil is best drawn over the constitutional antecedents of other likely sneerers and sniggerers, all of them late comers to the fun of representative democracy.

The Mother of Parliaments will muddle through in her own way, thank you.

We can do something to help: stay calm and courteous however great the excitement of the moment.

Speak up by all means – but be polite and respectful of those who hold different views.

This may not reflect the values of Instagram and Facebook – but it is what our society rests on and why we have avoided what the French and others have been through, within living memory. (I can remember the collapse of the Fourth Republic in 1958 – the Daily Express predicted a Foreign Legion parachute assault on the Bois de Boulogne, much to the excitement of my father, an former paratrooper.)

Oh, and while you are at it, make sure you have a few bags of rice in the cupboard and a good supply of loo roll.

Good luck and God save the Queen!

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