Ian Shires

Liberal Democrat Councillor for Willenhall North Ward, Liberal Democrat Group Leader, Walsall MBC Learn more

Labour MP caught on microphone urging heckling of Tory minister

by Ian Shires on 26 October, 2012

Published on Liberal Democrat Voice By  | 25th October 2012 – 1:25 pm

One of the reasons the behaviour of MPs in the House of Commons is often so appalling, baying and insulting in a way that if done by a school child in a classroom would have MPs lining up to demand tough action to restore decency to British life, is that the place is very small. Lots of people in a small space doesn’t usually bring out the best of behaviour, whether in MPs, commuters, sports fans or even tricycle riders.

But that’s only a partial excuse.

Because another of the reasons is simply that it is orchestrated. Deliberate, planned, organised – and hidden away. There is a skill in heckling in ways an opposing MP hears but the microphones do not pick up, just as there is a skill in organising and egging on colleagues in ways that let you appear all innocent and virtuous in public.

A skill that can go wrong, as Dot Commons’s Diary on PoliticsHome spotted:

Dot has obtained a recording of a cheeky Labour MP urging “more shouting” from his colleagues during a debate on police elections – a rare window into backbench tactics.

Police minister Damian Green had unexpectedly given way to a Labour MP’s question, and the the mic cut over to the Labour half of the chamber, catching the anonymous backbencher in the act – albeit off camera.

* Mark Pack has written 101 Ways To Win An Election and produces a monthly newsletter about the Liberal Democrats.

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