One benefit – possibly the only one – of the UK government’s interminable Brexit negotiations/proposals/back stops/etceteras is the winged phrase of a “meaningful vote” by parliament on prime minister Theresa May’s deal(s) with the European Union.

Two or three votes on this issue are “meaningful”.

So what are the hundreds of other votes every year by the “mother of parliaments”? Meaningless? Political grandstanding? Paying off donors? Fooling the voters into thinking we’re doing something useful? Pretending that parliament is what determines things?

Probably “all of the above” would be the best answer, which would apply equally to Australia’s parliament and most other legislatures. Yes, we demand that parliaments enact particular progressive proposals into law. But such proposals derive their meaning from the ordinary people who have campaigned for them, not from parliamentarians.

If we normally had meaningful votes in parliament, we would also need to have meaningful parliamentary elections. Don’t hold your breath for either.