The one thing to date that has concusively emerged from the ongoing Brexit debate is the boosting of the viewing figures for BBC Parliament. These figures have recently been in excess of other channels including MTV.
I have dipped in and out of the channel – mostly when a conclusive motion is being voted upon – only to then discover that in no way is it conclusive and the Brexit ‘can’ continues to be kicked down the road…But, all the while, what was striking was the number of MPs permanently attached to their smartphones.
We are always bemoaning our young friends for the amount of time they spend glued to their screens. The Schools Minister, Nick Gibb, called for a ban on mobile phones in schools. But what about getting his own house in order first? The House of Commons…
The decisions around Brexit surely represent the greatest peacetime decision our country has faced in any of our lifetimes…Surely when this matter is being debated, it would not be unreasonable to ask MPs to turn off their phones?
Most people turn their phone off before going into a meeting where matters being discussed are perhaps not as impactful as those in parliament at present…Three-quarters of the respondents to a survey of business people by the University of Southern California said that ‘it was inappropriate to read phones during meetings.’
John Bercow recently admonished the Leader of the House, Andrea Leadsom for using her phone during an important point of order: “I note that as the right honourable gentleman asks his question and I respond the Leader of the House is playing with her electronic device and so is the Deputy Chief Whip.”
Even when the Prime Minister is on her feet speaking to the House, you can see MPs busily texting or live tweeting. With such an important issue, that will impact generations to come, when someone is speaking in the House of Commons, shouldn’t all MPs present be actively listening?
Should we view this sort of rudeness and lack of consideration as part and parcel of our society and accept it?
Or should we switch off our phones, talk to people and listen to what they have to say and, more importantly, try to understand why they are saying it?
To be fair to Theresa May, mobile phones were banned from the cabinet meeting on 2nd April. Whether this was due to her steadfast upholding of good manners, or to prevent her plan to open discussions with Jeremy Corbyn from becoming public knowledge before her official announcement, I let you decide.