Daily catch-up: Embarrassment in what could have been the Georgian Houses of Parliament

This is what the Houses of Parliament would have looked like if the 1733 plan had been built. Ian Mansfield of the IanVisits blog has a great “Unbuilt London” post on the plans for the Georgian Houses of Parliament in the Palladian style.

Robert Walpole, the first Prime Minister (at a time when the term was still an insult), commissioned William Kent to design a grand “edifice that may be made use of for the Reception of the Parliament” to replace the cluster of medieval buildings by the Thames.

Kent submitted several designs over the next decade, each progressively plainer to reflect changing tastes, but the plans were shelved when Walpole stood down in 1742. When the medieval cluster burned down in 1834, it was replaced with today’s (crumbling) gothic palace. 

• On the subject of architecture, I have long been puzzled by this question: If most people prefer traditional houses, why don’t we build them? The Adam Smith Institute reports a Dutch survey that finds houses built in traditional styles sell for 15 per cent more than modern ones. 

• Yesterday’s Prime Minister’s Questions in Charles Barry’s gothic palace was an embarrassment for the Labour Party. On the day of the junior doctors’ strike, no MP asked a question about it. Jeremy Corbyn offered a six-part directionless rant about how expensive housing is in London. The Prime Minister sounded patiently reasonable as he listed the many things the Government is doing about it. They are all pointless and ineffective, of course, but Corbyn was unable to make that point. Instead, as he wound towards his great condemnatory peroration he simply became more verbose.

Allan Holloway recalled Winston Churchill’s words about Ramsay MacDonald: “He has, more than any other man, the gift of compressing the largest number of words into the smallest amount of thought.”

• Donald Trump in 21 Charts is very good from Vox. It explains the nature of his support well, and by doing so explains both why he is likely to win the Republican nomination but not to win the presidency. On the other hand, Mary Dejevsky in today’s Independent is very good on how Hillary Clinton, who is likely to win the presidency, looks like yesterday’s woman.  

• Can a magnifying glass start a fire from moonlight? What If? on some pretty complicated and unexpected science.    

• And finally, thanks to Matt Tobey ‏for this: 

“Anybody here named Jeff?”

Jeff: “Yes.”

Geoff: “Yeos.”

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