Wednesday, 6 April 2011

Sir Peter Tapsell, MP

In John Wells's blog of the 6th of April, John writes among other things about the replacement of /r/ by [ʋ]. The speaker he mentions in this context is Sir Peter Tapsell, MP for Louth and Horncastle, who has also been Father of the House since 2010. Listen to the extract that I recorded and put online for you (I've slightly amplified the sound and cut out some of the pauses; credit: BBC). Here's the text of the section I recorded:

I wish to speak in support of new clause 7, so ably moved by my hon. friend, the member for Broxbourne, and to comment on the related issues of the number of MPs and the number of Ministers with which it deals. Paragraph 24 of the coalition programme for government, the contents of which we are, in part, debating today, starts with the words:

"The Government believes that our political system is broken. We urgently need fundamental political reform".

Mr. Chairman, I totally disassociate myself from that, to me, shameful statement. If it is true, then all political leaders of recent years ought to resign their seats because they would be responsible. Our "political system is broken" the document says. That was the slogan of Oswald Mosley and the British fascists when I was a boy. Mosley spent the war  ͡   in prison, and the political system he despised and described as broken triumphed at home and abroad. Our political system is not broken. We have had some nincompoop Front Benchers, some expense-fiddling Back Benchers and even some who managed to qualify under both categories [laughter], but our political system is basically sound and, in parliamentary terms, not very different from what it was in 1945, 1918 and 1850. It is the duty of an incoming Government in a democratic country to work within the rules and conventions of its political system, not to change those rules and conventions to fit its temporary party political convenience – that is a privilege usually reserved for banana republics. That is why I am opposed to all so-called constitutional changes proposed in the coalition programme. The Deputy Prime Minister said yesterday – appropriately on "Desert Island Discs" – that when he met the leader of the Conservative party after the election, they agreed together that in the general election both their parties had lost. We should try to reverse that decision of the electorate not by changing the rules of the game but by raising the standard of government. We do not have too many MPs: we have too many Ministers and too many placemen, to use Sir Robert Walpole's phrase to describe the proliferation of what Disraeli later described as the Tadpoles and Tapers of politics, who are now being proliferated to an astonishing degree. In 1900, Mr Chairman, when we were the richest and most powerful nation in the world, there were nine Parliamentary Private Secretaries. By 2000, it had gone up to 47 and now it is rising daily. The total number of MPs involved in Government had by 2000 already gone up from 42 in 1900 to 129 in 2000.
BTW: Woy Jenkins (sorry: Roy Jenkins) and [lɔːd mǝntgʌmǝʋɛh] also illustrate this 'whim of nature'.

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