Violence in House of Commons bar

MPs can get drunk in the House of Commons more cheaply than anywhere/anyone else in London.

Last night an MP entered the Strangers’ Bar in the House of Commons, shouted abuse, and violently attacked one or more fellow MPs. I anticipate wincingly that, given the kind of abuse the MP shouted, that this is going to turn into a discussion about anti-Tory feeling among Scots or about the appalling behaviour of a Labour oik.

For several years running, the LGBT Tories have shown up to Pride fairs and marches in Edinburgh and Glasgow. Given how Scots feel about Tories, and given how LGBT people feel about Tories, they’re not a big group and they’re not a very popular one. But they have their stall at the Pride fair or they march with their banner, and while I doubt if they’ve convinced anyone in the crowd to vote Tory, no one has ever – to my knowledge – used abusive language to them or been violent. Pride marches and fairs are loud, cheerful, and sober parties.

From PoliticsHome, last night:

Conservative Stuart Andrew, MP for Pudsey, was reportedly head-butted and punched in the incident which happened just after 11pm tonight in the Stranger’s Bar, a Commons bar which is reserved for MPs and their guests.

Mr Joyce is alleged to have “just started lashing out at people”, according to one eye-witness who asked not to be named.

The eye-witness told PoliticsHome that Mr Joyce, a former Army officer who represents Falkirk, pushed a Tory MP and then started punching some of the other Conservative members seated at the back of the bar. Drinks were thrown over other bar partons.

I could be wrong but I think the evidence strongly suggests that Eric Joyce has a drinking problem – he was banned from driving in November 2010, after an incident near Grangemouth where he refused a breathalyzer test. (And he also has an expenses problem.) I have no comment to make on his blog about Vodka stats and the Scots but I expect plenty of other people will.

Not that this excuses the violence last night – I strongly agree with David Allen Green:

How wonderfully amusing. Someone we disapprove of is headbutted. What a laugh, eh? He must have been asking for it, so funny.
Because having one’s head smashed is just a joke, isn’t it?
Why are peeps calling it a “brawl” when the only current information is that it was one-sided? Makes the headbutt ok, does it?
By calling it a “brawl” the implication is that the victim has blame as well as the attacker. So we can laugh at alleged physical assault. (1, 2, 3, 4)

Though I disagree that taxpayers should subsidise their food, there’s every reason why MPs should have somewhere to go have a meal in the House of Commons, as should everyone who works there. I’d rather subsidise the food for the civil servants who work there than the MPs – anyone who gets a salary of £64K can pay for their own dinner. I’m not suggesting that the restaurants should be unlicenced. But the taxpayers subsidise four bars in the House of Commons, and I’m failing to see why we should pay for even one. Nor do I see why MPs should be able to buy as “souvenirs” bottles of wine or spirits at a subsidy of nearly 20% from the taxpayer.

If Eric Joyce is an alcohol addict, he needs help. For all the other MPs who work there, alcohol addicts or not – close down the bars, end the “souvenirs” subsidy, and set your own House in order. Though I doubt if David “Tiger-Tiger” Cameron, Bullingdon boy, will make any speeches in support of that.

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Filed under Drinking, Scottish Politics

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