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July 15, 2011



In a way it's depressing that this is how the world perceives us. The claims for moat cleaning didn't help. But Britain's institutions are not out-dated through neglect: they have been self-consciously made and maintained this way.

The chamber of the House of Commons was completed in 1950 to replace an earlier one destroyed by bombing. It could have been built big enough to seat all 640+ MPs comfortably. But Winston Churchill understood that over-crowding heightens the drama of big occasions, so only 427 seats were provided. Every PMQs the Commons is over capacity - that's not a bug, it's a feature :)


Dick Pountain

Garrotting sounds a bit foreign to me - I'm sure we still have the axe used on Charlie I.

Joe Fernwright

Sorry to be a dissenter here, but to my mind it is the United States that is jammed around 1700 - a 18th Century limited monarchy based on an 18th century distrust of both monarchy and democracy. So the one democratic right you do not have is to elect a sovereign parliament. Instead democracy is defined as separation of powers! Hence the tendency to "gridlock", and since human nature sometimes abhors a vacuum, political power devolving on the rich.
On the other hand, since we have an imaginary (sorry, unwritten) constitution, parliament can and does change it as we go along.

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