• Alistair Tait

A waste of parliamentary time


Golf will be debated in parliament today. Seriously. Don’t politicians have better things to do with their time?


Yes.


We’re in ten midst of a global pandemic, with thousands of cases and over 50,000 deaths. People are worried about losing their jobs, fearful of paying rent, making mortgage payments. Meanwhile talks over Brexit don’t seem to be going too well.


Add the above to the myriad of issues MPs should be debating instead of golf. Indeed, you can imagine the contempt with which many MPS will view the use of valuable parliamentary time given to our royal & ancient game when they’ve got issues far more important to their constituents.


Honestly!


Over 257,000 people signed a petition to keep golf courses open during this second lockdown after the All-Party Parliamentary Group was unable to persuade the Government to keep golf courses open. Quite why golf needs an all parliamentary golf group is beyond me. Are there similar groups for fishing, tennis, badminton, hill walking, mountain climbing, table tennis, tiddlywinks, knitting?


Golf is actually in pretty good hands. The R&A has plenty of critics but, in my humble opinion, the body administers the game fairly well. Yes, it has its shortcomings. (I could certainly give you a few areas where the governing body needs to improve.) However, by and large, it does a pretty good job. I see no reason for an all parliamentary golf group. I certainly wouldn’t be happy if my MP was spending time thinking about golf rather than the issues I highlighted above.


I wasn’t surprised when the petition failed to keep courses open before this latest lockdown. Just as I wasn’t surprised when a similar petition failed before the first lockdown.


I didn’t sign either petition. As I said:

“Why would our sport be given special privilege when others have to close down? Won’t that just contribute to the prevailing attitude that golf is for the privileged, and make us appear arrogant?”

Golf being debated in parliament today will do nothing to dispel that privileged, arrogant view with which many view our game. A distorted view as far as I'm concerned.


I want to return to the fairways as soon as possible. I realise others do, too. I understand getting back to something close to our normal routines is important for many reasons, mental health being one of them. For some, especially those who live alone, golf might be their only chance to socialise with others.


I’m aware of the health benefits of this great game, too. In fact, I’d probably be several pounds heavier if not for lugging a bag around green and pleasant spaces two or three items a week. I can’t wait to get back to that routine.


Yet the same can be said about many other activities we’ve had to pack up right now. My hillwalking hobby has taken a huge hit during this pandemic. Maybe the All-Parliamentary Hill Walking Group will be debating keeping the hills open tomorrow.


I will try and tune in today’s debate, if only out of interest. I sincerely hope it doesn’t take up too much time. A few minutes is more than it deserves. Indeed, it wouldn’t bother me if Speaker Lyndsay Hoyle chucked it out of the proceedings.


There are far more important matters politicians should be considering than golf.


#JustSaying: “If I had my way, any man guilty of golf would be ineligible for any public office.” H.L. Mencken

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