• In office but NOT in power!


    If you possess or have in the past possessed a driving licence Dear Reader, the above image will be/have been an occasional sight. For you it is/was a sight of power. The power to put points on your driving licence and potentially the loss of same. Which if you need the said licence to do your job would mean/have meant the loss of said job. The loss your job would/could have meant the loss of you’re ability to pay the mortgage and thus to potential to make you homeless. So you see there is an awful lot of power in that flashing blue light!

    The late Tony Benn put his finger on it when he said that a lot of politics was about power. However, Tony Benn was not always 100% spot on. A lot of it is about the office as well.

    In terms of Westminster politics, the power of a British Prime Minister is to be found – or not as in the case with Madame Mayhem – behind them – on the government benches. This power – a towering majority in the House of Commons – gives a British Prime Minister a power that a US President can only fantasise about. This is because it combines executive authority with legislative authority to a degree and extent not found in other countries who can realistically attach the label of “democratic state” to their system of government.

    One of the most far reaching acts was the Fixed-term Parliaments Act 2011 (c. 14). This enabled/enables a government to maintain itself in office if it could not command a majority in the Commons. This act opens up the prospect of a minority government comprised of one of the major parties (Conservative or Labour) or by a coalition of one of the major parties and one of the minor parties (Brexit, DUP, Green, Liberal Democrat, Plaid Cymru, SNP, UKIP) – and with that minority government being in office for a term of five years even with much of it’s legislative proposals failing to get through the Commons and the Lords to become law, an if made law, being subject to substantial amendments.

    How and why has this situation come about?

    By a change in voter behaviour.

    If voters vote in sufficient numbers for parties other than the Conservative or Labour parties neither of these parties will be able to form the type of government we had in the past – majority government. In the past majority government was enabled by the electoral system known on this side of the ponds as “First Past the Post” and on the other side of the pond as the “Two Party System”.

    The First Past the Post/Two Party System is not a fair system as it discriminates against parties who draw their support across all consistences and in favour of parties whose support is concentrated in a few constituencies. Two constituencies that are excellent examples of this is Madame Mayhem’s constituency of Maidenhead (created from Windsor & Maidenhead that was created from Windsor – held by the Conservatives since 1874) and Comrade Corbyn’s constituency of Islington North (held by Labour since 1937).

    This is why UKIP members felt so bitter the way the system treated them in 2015 and 2017. Liberal Democrats have felt the same for much longer.

    Of course, opponents of “PR” – to be found in the Conservative and Labour parties – will state that “PR” leads to coalition government.

    This is true. It does. Except in the most extraordinary circumstances.
    These politicos however fail to state that the UK has traditionally enjoyed it’s own unique form of coalition government.

    The difference – in the past – you see of the British system as opposed to say the German (post WW2) system is that in Britain the coalitions have been informal ones within the political parties whereas in German they have been formal ones within the legislature.

    This is because the two main British political parties have been “broad churches” with such as Jeremy Corbyn at one end and Tony Blair at the other or in the case of the Tories, Nadine Doris and Amber Rudd.

    The problem insofar as British politics comes about when we have the extremes of these parties taking control.

    The way to address this problem is to formalise the process as in Germany. That way we will hand the power as to who is in charge to the voters – which in a democracy is where it should lie!

    We must look at the situation from the voter’s viewpoint: How best to fairly represent their preferences. This of course means proportional representation in one of it’s many forms. This is an anathema for both the Conservative or Labour parties as it deprives them of power. It forces coalition government. However the reason why a change to PR has now become essential is the very parlous situation the UK is now in. This is because the UK faces the prospect of minority governments without a properly democratic mandate but one concocted by a failed and unfair electoral system.

    The advantage that “PR” has is that it will give a coalition a democratic mandate.

    In a democracy that is a prerequisite.

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