Ludicrous Cardboard Cut-Out

At the start of a justly celebrated 1996 article which theorized on why humans benefit by using diagrams, two British authors, the late Mike Scaife and Yvonne Rogers, quoted a bizarre scolding in Britain’s House of Commons by the Speaker, Betty Boothroyd.

According to The Guardian of 1994 December 7, she rebuked a legislator for using a cardboard diagram to explain overseas aid figures, saying, "I have always believed that all members of this house should be sufficiently articulate to express what they want to say without diagrams."

I was curious as to the circumstances of such a foolish statement and whether it was accurately reported, and located it in Hansard 1803–2005. The person who had held up the diagram was Tony Baldry, the under-secretary for foreign affairs, who was defending the Conservative government's allocation of aid to Africa on December 5.

It was immediately mocked by the late Derek Enright (Labour) as a "ludicrous cardboard cut-out".

Shortly after Dale Campbell-Savours (Labour) raised a point of order:
You will have noted during Question Time an incident at the Dispatch Box when the Under-Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs made what can only be described as an idiot of himself by holding up a handwritten sign showing misleading statistics on overseas development. Are you happy with such conduct at the Dispatch Box, Madam Speaker?
Boothroyd's  reply was not quite verbatim the same as the sentence in The Guardian, but the quote is close enough:
I am not happy with conduct whereby any Minister or any Member brings such diagrams or explanations into the Chamber. I believe that all Members of the House and particularly Ministers should be sufficiently articulate to express what they want to say without diagrams.
Politicians take note: Scaife and Rogers' article points out (very articulately) why diagrams (graphical representations) are enormously important and useful for clear thinking.

Scaife, Mike, and Yvonne Rogers. “External Cognition: How Do Graphical Representations Work?” International Journal of Human-Computer Studies 45 (1996): 185–213.

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