There was uproar in the House of Commons last Wednesday during question time.
The question put by Patrick Freeman seemed to many, naive and out of sync with the House's pragmatic approach to questions of governance; but its effect was undeniable.
He had asked if government would take active measures to curb "national gullibility" in the wake of a general world wide acknowledgement of the nation having been deluded into supporting the invasion of Iraq by reason of unexplained coercion from the US.
Pandemonium ensued and the Speaker had to demand order at least ten times before sanity could be restored.
Prime Minister David Cameron answered thus. "The right honourable member for Stupidity (laughter)is seeminlgy blissfully unaware of the fact that what he calls "gullibility" is the very marrow of democracy, namely trust and faith in the elected government, and long may it continue. Gullibility, so-called, is not an issue. A strengthening of native trust in, forbearance with, and support of the elected House is what must be strengthened. I trust he will consider what he means next time when he chooses to speak."
In support of the Prime Minister, Arnold Kronkite, Lib.Dem member for Pontefract added: "Evidently the questioner is misinformed, betraying a certain level of gullibility on his own part that we would urge him to address immediately (laughter). Does he not know that gullibility got him into office, as indeed it got us all in? (more laughter). Gullibility is good. Gullibility, at least among the electorate (more laughter) is good. Gullibility is healthy.
"Our marketing at home and abroad depends on it. Television and the media thrive because of it. Popular entertainment which is a huge industry in this country IS it! We keep a tight rein on newspapers and the media in general with legal restraints to protect what he calls "gullibility". We do not need less gullibility, we need more!
"People will buy anything they are told if they are told well enough and often enough. But so what? This way we gain support and credibility and can any of us say that the world would be any the worse without the Sex Pistols, McDonald franchises and Harry Potter?
(wild applause and boos)
"Would you not rather be elected to office by gullible voters than left out in the cold by sceptical ones? (uproarious laughter). I rest my case."
Solitary Green Party member Violet Plante then rose to defend the questioner:
"Mr. Speaker, Members of the House, you may laugh at our Honourable Member Mr. Freeman but he has raised an issue here that is about the spiritual and mental welfare, not to say physical health of the nation. How many more times are we to be willingly led to the slaughter by Pied Pipers like Tony Blair and Gordon Brown?
"What is being called for is the right to freedom of thought and freedom of speech and measures to prevent the denial of either! And we should do this by educating our children with regards to the shenanigans and wiles of public administrators, legal vultures and people in positions of power and influence. People in positions of power Mr. Speaker! - be they lawyers or journalists, especially all those in politics and the media. No more than we would advise our children to listen to strangers should we advise them to listen to anything - especially from politicians - without a maximum degree of scepticism and inquiry.
"Our children must surely be educated to this first and foremost. The same applies to the media and publishing industries and probably the worst culprits of all, the advertising moguls. There has to be some accountability written into the statutes. Those in government or in any other sphere of public influence should be brought to book for deliberately deceiving the public." (uproarious laughter).
When order was restored the Prime Minister got to his feet;
"I can safely say I have never heard such unrealistic balderdash in all my years of political office. Next thing you know we will be asked to enforce honesty on pain of a fine. (laughter). Are we to have Honesty Policemen sitting in at board meetings, day and night? Did we not establish churches to do that for us? And how far did they get? The biggest advertizing mogul on the planet is the Catholic Church. Do they deceive the public?"
(Uproarious laughter lasting three minutes).
"Whether gullibility be morally good or bad is not the issue. It is an important and ineradicable fact of our social existence. We teach children to think for themselves as it is, but it may be more beneficial to the economy in the long run if we invest in socially acceptable scientific ways to take control of their subconscious minds so that our economy flourishes and the GNP increases accordingly. Blair may have been wrong in practice with regards to Iraq but, by golly sirs! he was right in principle! As I've said previously, faith and trust in government and leadership is paramount if this country is to prosper.
(Shouts of "Heil Hitler!" from the back benches).
That is when complete pandemonium ensued. Both sides of the House set too with fists and boots while objects rained down upon them from a balcony full of infuriated spectators who also began fighting among themselves. Police had to be called in to restore order. Such scenes have rarely been seen in the House of Commons. Newspapers and the media have been legally prevented by the Prime Minister and his cabinet from playing up the event.