Epic Rap Battles of Parliament – Cartoon Logic
As I write these words, David ‘fifth-cousin-once-removed-of-the-Queen’ Cameron is fielding questions from MPs in a tradition known as Prime Minister’s Questions (PMQs). Jeremy Corbyn will also mark the delivery of his 100th PMQ, demonstrating that he has survived longer as Labour leader than many expected. This tradition of an official, fixed-period of question-asking, primarily between the PM and the Leader of the Opposition was established as a favour to the ancient Victorian PM William Gladstone, a man who remained in the job until his eighties, and who rather preferred coming into Parliament later in the afternoon. Isn’t that sweet? Other oddities include starting every session (every session) of PMQs with the phrase ‘Number One, Mr Speaker’, which must be the special codeword that activates David Cameron’s robotoid mind. Regardless, PMQs provide a perfect forum for the hallowed parliamentary traditions of shouting, waving stuff, making a noise that’s a cross between a cheer and a baa, and, of course, ‘jokes’. My god, the jokes!
I’m sure you remember some of the recent attempts at humour, including Cameron’s ‘dress-style’ jibe of last fortnight. And he has some form. A search for ‘David Cameron thug life’ on YouTube will reveal all, though ‘smug life’ might be more appropriate. As for the olden days, a classic zinger featured in John Major’s very first PMQs, just after Margaret Thatcher’s resignation. Seconds after standing to answer his first question, veteran Labour comedian (and MP) Dennis Skinner shouted ‘resign!’ to peals of laughter from the opposition. During Harriet Harman’s brief tenure as acting Labour leader, in which it became known she had started wearing a stab-vest in her constituency, William Hague asked if she dressed appropriately during other official visits to factories or building sites. Presumably, he said, when she goes to a cabinet meeting, she goes dressed as a clown. Wow.
I know plenty of people who despise this bawdy, raucous, almost ‘laddish’ style of question-and-answering, where it doesn’t so much matter what you say as how you say it and how loudly your allies cheer. Despite my love for Britain’s quirky parliamentary traditions, I find myself agreeing with these people. It’s very hard to take the House of Commons seriously if they keep making the sorts of noises you might expect from a cow with a tuba for a larynx.
The solution is simple. Either Parliament should learn to behave itself, or it should go the whole hog. I propose they do the latter and become totally combative and silly. The new House of Commons would look something like a wrestling arena, with steep sides, cramped seating and a square in the middle where the debating happens. (Doesn’t it already look like this? – Ed.) It would be dark, with coloured spotlights attached to the ceiling, smoke machines on the floor and banks of speakers that play loud rock music between questions. The Speaker (henceforth known as the MC) will take to the stage in costume. Current Speaker John Bercow would look resplendent in a matador’s outfit, as John ‘The Bull’ Bercow. With microphone in hand, he would announce questions from MPs in a booming tone, before they charge down the stairs to cheers and high-fives. Taking up a position opposite the PM, the questioners would be expected to only loosely reference parliamentary affairs, and instead would be scored on their skill in wordplay, humour, rhythm and rhyme. Rapping, poetry, knock-knock jokes and puns would all net big points. At the end of the session, the PM and the Opposition would both receive total scores. If the PM loses three in a row, he or she must resign. Immediately.
The crowning glory of this new-style of PMQs would be the monthly rap battle between the PM and the Leader of the Opposition. Lyricists and DJs would sit with their party leader and spend much of the morning perfecting that day’s rap. During the battle itself, the leaders would alternate verses, though interruptions from other party leaders would be perfectly acceptable. I strongly suspect that this form of battle would quickly replace elections themselves, with the snappiest rapper who drops the best rhymes taking his or her rightful place as head of government. I can just imagine it now. The very first Epic Rap Battle of Parliament, in the style of Nice Peter and Epic Lloyd of internet-fame.
David ‘Megatron’ Cameron! VERSUS! Jeremy ‘Comrade’ Corbyn! BEGIN!
This week, the Trumpsday Clock is kept at FOUR MINUTES to Trumpsday. Donald Trump marches on. On the 8th, he took three of the four states on offer (only Idaho defied him, while Hawaii, Mississippi and Michigan chose him as their nominee). Despite a savaging from 2012’s Republican candidate, Mitt Romney, Trump seems on course. At this stage, I’m no longer really questioning whether Trump will be the Republican choice. Already, we look toward his probable battle with Hilary Clinton. Here, he isn’t polling as strongly as she is. Subsequently, the clock remains still. This week, we have a further six states and three territories choosing their Republican nominees. Might Ted Cruz or Marco Rubio experience a resurgence? Might Trump trounce them in a rap battle? Wait and see.