Two things have been key pillars of parliamentary government’s ability to function for the past 330 years.
One is the government’s power of dissolution. Bagehot (‘The English Constitution’) explained that parliamentary supervision combined effectively with government functioning because:
“Though appointed by one parliament, it can appeal if it chooses to the next.”
The ridiculous fixed-term parliament act (passed to provide reassurance to the libdems during their 2010-2015 coalition with the conservatives) removed that pillar.
Another is its direction of the parliamentary agenda.
I am guided by and must operate within the Standing Orders of the House. (Speaker Bercow, 26 September 2014)
The Standing Orders are of course our rules, and by those rules we must all abide. (Speaker Bercow, 29 June 2017)
Those conventions and precedents are important to the collegiate operation of this House. (Speaker Bercow, 26 March 2018)
I am clear in my mind that I have taken the right course of action. (Speaker Bercow, ditching 330 years of precedent against the unanimous instruction of his law clerks on 9 January 2019 – and on several occasions thereafter, h/t the Spectator)
If parliamentary government could have functioned, it could have delivered Brexit, so, egged on by a cross-party coalition of MPs, most of whom were breaking highly-specific election pledges, and led (appropriately) by a speaker whose job exempted him from facing a contested election at all, they wrecked parliament’s ability to function rather than submit to the humiliation of obeying their promise to voters instead of their own opinions.
The result is: parliament has been non-functional for most of this year – and everyone sees it. People who think ‘parliamentary standing orders’ are how it pays the electricity company for lighting in late-night sittings see it. People who think ‘parliamentary standing orders’ are MPs’ drink preferences at the House of Commons’ subsidised bars see it. People who haven’t a clue what happened in 1689 see it. Every day in every way, this parliament is getting itself more and more despised – not the way I’d have chosen to show I belonged to an elite.