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March 12, 2012

Eric Joyce MP and Memorable Political Punch-Ups

By Spear's

It’s hardly a surprise that Eric Joyce resigned from the Labour party today after head-butting fellow MPs in the House of Commons bar, but perhaps a few more punch-ups will get young people interested in politics again.

It was hardly a surprise that Eric Joyce resigned from the Labour party today after apologising for head-butting fellow MPs in a House of Commons bar brawl in late February. Fuelled by tax-payer subsidised booze, Joyce tried to punch several Tory MPs while shouting ‘there are too many fucking Tories in here.’  On balance, it is probably right that he should stand down.

And yet in sensible, cosy old Westminster it’s a bit of a relief to see some passions inflamed. Perhaps a few more punch-ups will get young people interested in politics again, and encourage the 35% of Brits who couldn’t be bothered to vote in the last election back to the voting booths.

Eric Joyce MP resigns after House of Commons brawl
British politics never used to be so staid. While today we have to deal with endless coalition squabbles, the politicians of the 19th century were more decisive when it came to keeping their house in order. In 1809 the foreign secretary George Canning and the minister of war Lord Castlereagh settled their differences with a duel on Putney heath. They were almost as incompetent at fighting as modern day politicians: Canning completely missed and Castlereagh shot Canning in the thigh. But at least they tried.

Thankfully the violent political spat is not entirely extinct. In South Korea a parliamentary debate over free school turned violent, to great comic effect. How would Thatcher, Thatcher Milk Snatcher have fared in a physical contest, I wonder?

I can highly recommend this footage of two Lebanese political panellists fighting over Syria. Try to forget the seriousness of the subject matter (you won’t understand what they are saying anyway) and appreciate that there hasn’t been a better example of incompetent middle-aged pugilism since Hugh Grant wrestled Colin Firth on the set of Bridget Jones in 2001, although this fight between Bolivian parliamentarians is a close contender.

There are many ways to cure political apathy. David Cameron challenging Ed Miliband to a duel would be one of them.
Read more by Sophie McBain

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