Monday, 11 May 2009

The Majority But Nothing We Can Do

Tony Blair earned the nickname Teflon Tony because no matter what was thrown at him, he managed to wriggle out of it. He would come on TV, shrug and tell us that he really was a straight kind of guy and we'd collectively say okay then and he would go back to Downing Street and continue with his plans to illegally blow up Iraq.
His replacement, Gordon Brown, seems to be made more of something altogether more sticky as he continues to jump out of the frying pan, into the fire and then performs a double somersault into the furnace.
The latest scandal to hit him is MP's expenses which sees his cabinet and party colleagues fleecing the taxpayer for hundreds of thousands of pounds annually.
The Daily Telegraph has got their grubby mitts on the expenses claims of Parliament members and are drip feeding out the amounts our elected representatives are taking back from the public purse, and it's causing red faces and angry taxpayers all around.
Yes its outrageous and we can bounce off the walls in anger at what our Government gets up to but because of the way these things work, there is absolutely nothing we can do about it.
Once every five years we get to vote and if we don't like what the present lot are doing, we can boot them out but for the next five years we can only sit and watch them do what they like. So if in their allotted time they decide to have a war, hand out tens of billions to bankers, award themselves above inflation pay rises or bring in snooping techniques that would rival anything the Stasi had going, you have got to sit and take it.
A poll today put support for the Government at 23% which means that less than a quarter of the population think Labour is doing a good job but there is no mechanism for the overwhelming majority to call time on them.
I don't know of any other job where you can stay in charge when over three quarters of your customers think you are doing a lousy job so why should the Prime Minister's job be any different, especially when the importance and effect on all our lives is so important.
I will add it to the Lucy manifesto along with my other good ideas of paying everybody the same and choosing what departmental areas we want our tax to go on our tax returns.


Noah "Nog" said...

The term lengths established in the American Constitution are perhaps one of the greatest examples of political genius in existence.

-The President has a 4 year term
-Representatives have 2 year terms
-Senators have 6 year terms with a third standing for election every 2 years.

The President's party generally gets hammered in "midterms". And it is essentially impossible for the President's party in the midterm of the President's second term not to get hammered (i.e. the Republicans in 2006). And 1998 is hardly a counter-example as the Republicans kept both houses of Congress.

In this way, it is effectively certain that no party can keep both the Executive and the Legislature for more than 6 concecutive years without being truly popular.

Further, you can only win a third of the Senate every two years. So massive mobs cannot eat the whole government in one bite.

But perhaps the problem in Britain isn't that the government gets to call its own elections most of the time. The two problems I see are:

-1) The lack of separation between the executive and the legislature.
-2) The lack of a functional upper house.

You have no checks or balances, except for, well... the reserve powers of the Queen.

Perhaps you might want a functional upper house somewhat like our Senate. It could have members with fixed terms, let's say 4 years with half being elected every other year. These members could be apportioned in a somewhat disporportional way (i.e. England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland get 5 or 10 members each just for being there and then a remaining 60 members allocated by population).

Such a house could have functions and authority less than our Senate but greater than your House of Lords; except it could have the very special authority of dissolving the government and the lower house as often as once a year provided some supermajority (i.e. 3/5ths, 2/3rds) of its members approved such a measure.

There are many different solutions that one could think of. But checks and balances are really the best option.


Anonymous said...


I'll offers some alternatives to "nothing":

1. blog about it
2. overthrow the government
3. move to a place where it is better (good luck)
4. jump off a tall building (this is not really a viable alternative ESPECIALLY if you are bipolar!!)
5. drink more
6. drink less
7. stop getting the news
8. get Cheezy to overthrow the government
9. Blame W (it was there I had to use it...)
10. get Annie to overthrow the government
11. become a Gurkah (sp?)
12. just be glad you aren't a seal in Canada
13. drink a lot more and double your smoking
14. put naked videos of yourself on the blog
15. learn French so you can really whine


effay said...

I think the purpose of Q's entire comment was to sneak in 14. It's like the guy who goes to the drug store and says: "I'll have a Hershey's bar, some film, a lighter, a pack of Marlboro Lights, a box of condoms, some batteries....

Noah "Nog" said...


Expressing desire by transference! We all know what effay wants!

Now how did this post turn into a factory of smut? Maybe if someone posted about sex we'd turn it into a discussion on politics. But perhaps I am having too much fun with this...


Noah "Nog" said...

Oh, and I believe that I will be the one to overthrow the government. Or maybe I'll just go with the batteries...

Cheezy said...

Re- Q's #8...

Ssssshhhh! I've been working on this plan for years... don't need you blowing it now!

Annie said...

The ever-perceptive Q.

Lucy said...

I reckon Annie, Cheezy and I could do it. I bagsy Foreign Secretary and feel that a 6 month fact finding mission with Johnny Depp to the Caribbean is priority.

Naked videos on the internet? That's unheard of.

Cheezy said...

Good plan. And I could be Home Secretary, as long as all you taxpayers promise to pay for draining my moat, and giving my portcullis a good polishing. Oo-er.

Lucy said...

The moat dredging has got to be one of my favourites of this expenses scandal along with John Prescott's two toilet seats.