On the ropes over taxes and the deficits, Mr Brown is trying to change the subject today. He wants to talk about a new democracy.
He does so without a hint of irony and without a moment for self reflection. Yesterday he could have instructed the Ministers in his government to try a little democracy for a change in the Commons. Instead they opted for their well tried and tested steam roller approach to all other opinions but their own.
The Digital Economy Bill had been 13 years in the making. Apparently over those 13 years they had discovered how important the creative industries are, and how they need new regulation. The government against all precedents decided to hold a second reading of a major new bill after announcing the end of the Parliament!
Worse than that, they time limited debate with a vicious timetable. We could have stayed later and spent more time on the Bill last night, but that did not suit Labour. Instead those of us who did get to speak were time limited. Today all of one hour will be given over the committee stage! A proper committee stage needs a minimum of 20 hours. The bill in its current form is ill thought through, badly drafted, and will have unpredictable consequences. Last nigth when I sought to expose one of the problems with it, the Minister seemed unaware of any of the impact the Bill might have and was left defending some other Bill in his imagination which he had not presented to the House.
Democracy is in your heart. A democrat respects the opinions of others, considers them carefully, and allows full debate to expose the different views. This government has always done the opposite – it has scorn for its opponents views, seeks to misrepresent or stifle them, usually kicks the person and not the ball and allows as little debate as possible. You should judge this goverment by its actions, not by its fine words on democratic reform. The method of handling the Digital economy Bill sums up all that is bad in this government’s approach. They are not democrats in their hearts, when it comes to handling other people’s opinions.