Tuesday, June 29, 2010

How about this for a parliamentary insult

I recently found myself searching Hansard for something and I found this little episode:
Sir, the hon. Member who has just sat down must recollect that those who meet him in debate do not meet him on equal terms. He never makes any mistakes; he is not subject to any human infirmity; he knows what a man can deny, and what not; and when he asserts that my right hon. Friend cannot deny a certain statement, and when my right hon. Friend does deny it, the hon. Member continues with unabated confidence to assert that my right hon. Friend had not denied it. The hon. Member's means of acquiring knowledge are derived from higher sources than are available to us—sources of which we know nothing, and to which we have no access. We must approach him as infirm mortals, and any humble suggestions we make must be submitted to his infallible judgment.
Ouch. Now, that insult was from the Prime Minister, a Mr Gladstone when discussing the Lords' amendments to the 1872 Ballot Act. Would one get away with such dripping sarcasm today?

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