11 JULY 1931, Page 10

A Penny of Observation

AsmAso How hast thou purchased this experience ? Mont : By my penny of observation.

(Love's Labour's Last.) Sus-MEN It was only last week that we found ourselies suddenly confronted with the interpretation of certain tendencies (of which we had long been dimly-aware) in the psychology of the House of Commons. The revelation mime to us in a flash, by way of two independent clues, the inward Significance of which appears to have escaped the general public. The events, to which we refer were, first, the hand-to-hand struggle between Labour members and attendants onthe floor of the House; and, secondly, the race between a Member of Parliament and a covey of homing pigeons from London to Leicestershire. Whoever ponders these outwardly" unrelated occurrences in their true perspective cannot fail to read in them an atlinission of decadence, if not of defeat, on the part of our legislators. Driven, we are forced to conclude, by the pressure of public disapproval to a tardy recognition of their own futility, they are signalizing their acceptance of a lowered status by volun- tary self-degradation. They are renouncing their humanity. They fight among themselves, not like men, but like dogs, noisily and unscientifically. Outside the House they have not the face to compete on an equal basis with their fellow-beings ; they pit themselves against pigeons. In so far as it proclaims a readiness to face the facts, this self-humiliation to the level of brute creation is a healthy sign, and we welcome it. But it should not be allowed to go too far. We would not have Parliament jettison the iron rations of her self-respect. Accordingly, we recommend that there should be set up in the House of Commons certain cages and enclosures, each con- taining some particularly repellent or ludicrous animal : here an ape, gibbering, rapacious, and imitative : there one of the more cumbrous pachyderms, whose hide is penetrable only by the Wait-a-bit thorn. As they look at these, some spark of hope, some vague stirring of self-confidence will stiffen the wilting aspirations of our legislators. "After all," they will murmur, averting their eyes, "we have not yet sunk as low as that." In some cases, perhaps, they will be right.

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