The House of Common is well known for being a stuffy place. Anybody who has been in the Chamber knows it is much smaller than it appears when you see it on television. It is warm, the seats can make some crazy noises as people wiggle around and beccause the venue is windowless, it is often pretty airless. That is why at the moment, so few are allowed in the Chamber.
In normal times as people packed into the room, the long hours and long commutes of MPs often mean they nap as the Chamber gets quieter. They can’t help it, the heat and comfort, they just nod off. However in a world that is constantly streamed online and on TV, nothing is missed. So we see all too often pictures of MPs and Lords having a brief snooze.
On Wednesday during PMQs the world was looking at Carolyn Harris MP…Some say she was sleeping, others say checking her phone.
We understand checking her phone was the answer she gave, when quizzed about the issue. Whether she should be sat in the Chamber and so bored she is checking her phone is perhaps another matter but ho-hum! MPs are allowed to check hand held electronic devises as long aas they ’cause to distrbance and are not usedin such a way as to impair decorum’. They are only supposed to be used to help enable participation in the debate – such as checking notes, or making them as others speak. Those in the Chamber should really be there to debate, there is plenty of space in the lobby for chatting or catchcing up on the socials..
Once Carolyn moved beyond the controversy of sleeping or texting….The Twitter crowds were out in force and they took aim at what she was wearing. Every Member of Parliament is asked to dress to demonstrate respect for the House and for its central position in the life of the nation. Business dress is the suggested guide.
However never one to shy away from a Twitter spat, Carolyn Harris quickly bounced back! MP vs the Public in a cyber dispute, ,not sure about the fashion debate but this is not a great look…..Ouch!
While we do not expect to see our purple-haired MP donning a suit and tie in the Chamber, is there a double standard for women in the Chamber? Was Carolyn respecting the House? Is it OK for an MP to bite back on trolling?
If you want to take a look at the incident which took place during PMQs right before Charlotte Nicols spoke click here and make up your own mind. For us it was clear Carolyn was awake, indeed she had been texting quite a bit throughout PMQs but did not ask a question or bob to catch the Speaker’s eye from what we could see.
Let us know in the forums we would love to hear your views.
Carolyn Harris is never one to be shy, she’s often taunting the PM or covering her ears at PMQs and certainly makes a great character. She regurlarly attends the Chamber and votes and we’d love to hear more about what she’s wearing. C’mon Carolyn, tell us where you got that jacket!