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Tuesday, February 16, 1999 Published at 19:49 GMT

UK Politics

View from the gallery

Commons sketch by BBC Parliamentary Correspondent Norman Smith

Sometimes MPs just can't help themselves.

Their eyes glaze over, their brains jam and they are unable to think or say anything that does not involve blaming the party opposite for everything that has ever gone wrong in the world.

[ image: Have MPs gone finger-wagging mad?]
Have MPs gone finger-wagging mad?
England lost to France? What do you expect from that lot opposite.

The television's not very good tonight? The such-and-such party have never cared about what's on the box.

My toast's burnt? What do you expect under a Tory/Labour/Lib Dem government.

You get the idea. Its finger-wagging politics gone potty. And we had a genetically-modified bellyful of such behaviour during a government statement on the GM food saga.

This despite the fact that the public, press and pundits are all clamouring for some clear advice and a proper debate on the issues inolved.

Instead, the Tory agriculture spokesman Tim Yeo was scarcely able to restrain himself as he gabbled away blaming the government for every ill that could ever be associated with test tube tomatoes and the rest.

Scientific reports had been suppressed... Lord Sainsbury wasn't fit to be a minister... Tony Blair was in the pocket of Bill Clinton and the US food industry. On and on he went.

The Food Safety minister Jeff Rooker duly replied in kind.

It was the Tories who gave us BSE... it was the previous government who first approved GM foods for sale... it was the party opposite who opposed labelling of GM foods.

Backbench MPs took up the cry, pointing across at each other and bawling and shouting about what a bunch of hypocrites the other lot were.

It was a sort of bad tempered political gridlock. Everyone got angry, blamed everyone else and no progress was made.

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