It is not often that I think kind thoughts about Oliver Cromwell, the murderer of the Irish, the military dictator of the English, and the nepotistic destroyer of religious freedom that served as a spur to create America, but today I think is one of those days. Almost 360 years after this speech was delivered in the House of Commons, with Cromwell dissolving the Rump Parliament, it is amazing to think how little has changed:
“...It is high time for me to put an end to your sitting in this place, which you have dishonoured by your contempt of all virtue, and defiled by your practice of every vice; ye are a factious crew, and enemies to all good government; ye are a pack of mercenary wretches, and would like Esau sell your country for a mess of pottage, and like Judas betray your God for a few pieces of money.
“Is there a single virtue now remaining amongst you? Is there one vice you do not possess? Ye have no more religion than my horse; gold is your God; which of you have not barter'd your conscience for bribes? Is there a man amongst you that has the least care for the good of the Commonwealth?
“Ye sordid prostitutes, have you not defil'd this sacred place, and turn'd the Lord's temple into a den of thieves by your immoral principles and wicked practices? Ye are grown intolerably odious to the whole nation; you were deputed here by the people to get grievances redress'd; your country therefore calls upon me to cleanse the Augean Stable, by putting a final period to your iniquitous proceedings, and which by God's help and the strength He has given me, I now come to do.
“I command ye, therefore, upon the peril of your lives, to depart immediately out of this place! Take away that shining bauble there, and lock up the doors. You have sat here too long for the good you do. In the name of God, go!”
Oliver Cromwell, Dismissing Parliament, 20th April, 1653
UPDATE: Speaker to go. Announcement at 2:30pm today. It is still unclear whether he is going to go immediately or try to hang on until the next election.