Since 1948 the House of Commons has been recalled on 28 occasions. Examine the list of times this has happened and, predominantly, it has been for major international incidents that have turned out to be significant moments in history. Events such as the Korean War, the Suez crisis of 1956, Berlin crisis of 1961, the Falklands conflict and the attacks on the US in 2001.
On average a recall happens three times a decade, we have seen a recall of our MPs twice in two months. Both occasions were unnecessary and led by concerns over media reporting rather than as a step toward agreeing a cause of action that may define the nation. In July, under intense media scrutiny, the House of Commons met and debated 'Public confidence in the media and police' which has been followed up with today's statement on riots in London and elsewhere.
A signal has been made to the country that government and MPs are at their desks and working toward solutions. Watching the show this morning failed to fill me with confidence that solutions to the ills of our inner cities are close at hand. But at least people will have seen a packed Commons chamber and a show of unity by the Prime Minister and leader of the opposition.
This is sadly another symptom of the failure of modern politics. Too much of it is dealing in perception rather than concerted effort to make a difference. All of the measures announced today could have been taken without the Commons sitting. It is right that action is taken as a result of the terrible scenes we have seen in many of our major cities. A step change in approach to policy making will also be welcome particularly with how we deal with gangs. However, the recall today will arguably slow down that process as Ministers have been required to sit and listen to the debate rather than getting on with the job at hand.
All in all I'm left with a feeling once again that keeping the media happy is too often mistaken for genuine action which, in the long-term, will do nothing to heal the wounds on our streets.