As the House of Shame prepares to elect a new Speaker many citizens are bemused and confused by the typically ancient and deliberately arcane methods used by Members of Parliament, which is not helpful when so much of the electorate are already put off from politics in the UK following recent scenes of mass greed and corruption allied to a rudderless government which appears to have no plans and a distinct track record of ignoring public opinion and concerns. Therefore your trust Woolamaloo Gazette’s political department has created a clear-cut explanation as to how exactly this centuries-old process of electing a new Parliamentary Speaker takes place.
The entire unwieldy event lurches into being when candidates throw their hats into a ring to announce their intention to run for the office following the dismemberment of the previous Speaker (who is ceremonially stuffed, embalmed and mounted in the House of Lords). Today this is a figure of speech but back in the 1600s it was taken literally, where refined, corrupt gentlemen would actually throw their hats physically into a small ring, with the hats which landed closest to the centre of the ring dictating the running order of the election. Accidentally knocking out an opponent’s hat from the ring (thus making their candidacy void before it really began) was seen as quite dishonourable and frowned upon. Doing so deliberately was perfectly acceptable, however. Today’s politicians no longer throw actual hats, they simply have to walk around banging a large drum and yelling ‘pay attention to me, pay attention to me, me me!’. The other Members of the House are, by tradition, supposed to ignore them during this part of the process for as long as possible until they simply can’t take it anymore and agree to let that person stand for the post. This can last for several weeks and over the centuries of Parliamentery Democracy has caused the deaths by terminal boredom or asphyxiation due to excessive hot air inhalation of a number of politicians and members of the Fourth Estate and citizens.
The second phase is to take the remaining candidates into what is known as the Cromwellian stage of the election. All of the prospective Speakers must dress up as Oliver Cromwell (warts and all); a pack of King Charles Spaniels is loosed into the Chamber of the House of Commons and the Cromwellian garbed candidates must chase the floppy eared royal hounds around to the strains of the Benny Hill theme music and catch as many as possible, stuffing them into a burlap sack. The winner of this stage is the candidate who captures the most spaniels then rushes to Banqueting House and leans out the window where King Charles was lead to his execution and lean out displaying the canines and yelling “behold the pets of a traitor”. Those with the fewest sacks of pups are removed from the candidacy. In 1822 there was a great scandal when a leading candidate was found to have cheated by indulging in ‘puppy sack stuffing’. Deemed a dishonourable and untrustworthy scoundrel he was dismissed from Parliament and appointed as ambassador to France.
The next stage of the election sees the remaining candidates move out onto the riverside terrace of the House of Commons. Upstream a group of school children release a large number of rubber ducks with hooks attached to the top of them; underneath each is taped a sealed, waterproof packet detailing the expense abuses of various members of the House. As the squadron of rubber ducks pass down the Thames the candidates lean out over the side with large poles trying to hook out as many ducks as they can, the idea being to use the expense account information attached to each to blackmail other Members of the House into voting for them; obviously the more a candidate has the more Members he or she can press into their camp.
Since the press has effectively revealed most of this information publicly this year (and rather more efficiently and transparently than the official government attempt at openess) this stage will be abandoned this time and replaced by Duck-a-Speaker, where each candidate is arrayed on a hinged wooden platform suspended over the Thames with a number of targets in the shape of fat pigs above their heads. Members throw stones and if they hit the pigs, the pig’s head drops into a small trough below them. Once all of the pigs have their heads in the troughs the hinge opens below the candidate and they drop into the Thames. This stage now has no actual effect on the voting process and is carried out simply for fun and to ensure the prospective speakers are well used to the rituals of public humiliation.
The final stage sees the actual election segment of the whole process; this has been made into a secret ballot so that Members can freely vote for the candidate their party bosses and whips have told them to vote for. Each goes into a curtained booth wearing only one brown, left shoe on their feet. A Masonic emblem is drawn by the candidate of their choice as the voting Member then turns three times widdershins reciting “God save the Queen” or in the case of Republicans or Atheists “By the Power of Grayskull”. The secret ballots are then collected by the Parliamentary Hunchback who takes them in a silk sack to the Parliamentary grinder, who shreds the ballots before mixing them with barley and oats. The resulting combination is then spread outside to bring down gulls and crows to feast upon it. The birds have previously been had daubs of coloured paint (a shade for each candidate) applied to their wing tips and the winner will be the candidate whose birds eat the most first. To ensure outsider birds do not join in and skew results Prince Phillip stands ready with a shotgun and blasts any errant pigeons who stray into the venerated ancient gaurantee of British democracy.
The winning candidate, now Speaker, is then picked up on the shoulders of Members and carried to the nearest Clark’s shoe shop to be fitted with the special buckled shoes of office. This is our ancient birthright of clear, transparent and fully accountable Parliamentary democracy which makes us better than everyone else fully protected for the people of this great land.