This is the rough version of what’s happening today… (according to Laura Kuenssberg)
UK Govt – it will all be fine;
Dublin – we can’t budge;
DUP – we won’t budge;
EU – the show is now in London;
Brexiteers – if EU doesn’t bury this bit, for now, May has to walk.
Meanwhile, the real prime minister has refused to meet with May today.
It’s always brought a smile to my face when British Prime Minister after British Prime Minister has trotted around the world in a self-important manner spouting off about democracy.
Surely, Britain is one of the least truly democratic countries in the West, I thought.
After all, we have an unelected head of state whom we were always told was ceremonial and had no powers at all. It turns out that in truth not only does she and her immediate family have immense influence, she and her eldest son, have real powers which they use to have laws changed.
They also have the use of the Privy Council, which can make declarations in the name of Her Majesty. These are the law with no scrutiny allowed.
Next, the government can use Statutory Instruments, also known as SIs, a form of legislation which allows the provisions of an Act of Parliament to be subsequently brought into force or altered without Parliament having to pass a new Act. They are also referred to as secondary, delegated or subordinate legislation.
Then there is the House of Lords, the second largest legislative chamber in the world (after the National People’s Congress of China… a country of 1.4 billion people). It comprises firstly of 90 hereditary peers, self-selected by the Earls, Viscounts, Marquesses, and Dukes (which we still have in this bastion of democracy). The rest of us are excluded from voting on who these people should be (and once elected by their peers they can remain there until death). Only other hereditary aristocrats have a vote.
A further two hereditaries sit as of right, because of positions they historically hold in the royal household. (It’s already beginning to sound like something dreamt up for an 18th-century comic opera, isn’t it?)
Next in this massive house, are archbishops and bishops of the established church of the state religion. Listen to that: state religion! Finally, there is a rag bag of who knows how many ex-ministers and failed politicians, rich people who have given money to one of the three main parties… and a few oddballs the reason for whose presence can only be wondered at.
Then there is the supposedly democratic part of governance. The Commons, elected by a ridiculous first past the post system which can give an absolute majority on a vote of around 35%, and in which two-thirds of the seats never change hands. And this all underpinned by a party whipping system designed to keep most MPs very firmly on message.
Under this prime minister, we have seen some rather odd and disturbing developments which further undermine the feeble democracy that we have.
Ironically they have come about in the wake of Brexit, which was supposed to return power to parliament from supposedly undemocratic EU institutions, like the council of ministers (comprising of elected ministers from the member states) or the European parliament, elected on a proportional representation system.
The first happened when our ridiculously inept prime minister called a general election to prove that she was strong and stable, expecting to win a thumping majority, and in fact lost the small majority she had inherited from David Cameron. Looking more than a little ridiculous she reached out to someone even more ridiculous: the ex-First Minister of Northern Ireland and leader of the DUP, currently under investigation for the mishandling of a large sum of public money, Arlene Foster.
The DUP agreed to use its 10 members to back the prime minister in certain matters (because of EVEL, Irish MPs cannot vote on any legislation that is England only) in return for £1.5 billion. Pretty much a bribe, using public money…our money!
Next, May decided to “fix” the committee system so that, despite not having a majority in parliament, the Tories would have a majority of members on every important committee in parliament. (Somewhat ridiculously they have more members than any other party on the Scottish Affairs Committee)
Finally, May has brought in and had passed in the Commons, a Bill that will give ministers the right to alter the law without any reference to parliament. The powers have been nick-named Henry VIII powers, after England’s most authoritarian monarch, but many commentators feel that they resemble much more closely The Enabling Act (1933), which allowed Hitler to bypass the Reichstag and rule by ministerial (his) power.
It is a dangerous road to take, and as I said, all the more ironic because, apart from xenophobia, it seems to me that the biggest cries from the popular press were that British laws should be made exclusively by British representatives in a British fashion in Britain, mindful of Great British values (whatever they are). And of course that we keep being told that we MUST respect the British people who voted for Brexit.
Ho hum, funny old world.
May even ignores Scottish Tories.
It seems to me that Colonel Davidson’s glory days were short lived. When the Tories became the opposition in Scotland and then won seats in the UK elections, Ruth was the all conquering hero; the golden girl. She could do no wrong.
Then came the deal with Foster.
Who knows if buoyed by all her successes (and I know that not only didn’t she win anything, in fact, she trailed a dismal second to Nicola Sturgeon and the SNP in both Edinburgh and London, but it was, without doubt, considerable progress), perhaps she became a bit cheeky with May. It’s hard not to get above yourself when you’ve been relatively successful and your smart ass boss has just made a monumental idiot of hersel;f.
When May had to bribe Foster to the tune of between £1 billion and £1.5 billion to keep herself in power, after her disastrous attempt to show Europe just how strong, stable and red, white and blue she was, there is no doubt that Colonel Davidson was not best pleased.
Davidson made the clear to May, quite rightly, that she wouldn’t tolerate any of the DUP’s loonie right wing, orange, religious claptrap bigotry, and she did it very publicly. Although to be fair there has yet to be any stoning of gays, or beheading those who have had abortions since the DUP have been keeping the Tories in power (so Ruth may have been heeded) it seems that her star has been somewhat diminished.
And now May’s stuttering, stumbling toady second in command has made it clear that he (read May) doesn’t give a fig what the rt honourable and gallant lady thinks about desperately needed immigration to Scotland, the UK government is going to press ahead with what England wants.
In the meantime, Mundell made it clear that he wouldn’t allow Northern Ireland to get a shedload of dosh while Scotland got nothing, shortly after which he appeared to suffer from some sort of amnesia on the subject. Arlene got loads of money and an RAF flight home to Belfast, while Nicola Sturgeon was told to use the tradesman’s entrance when she called, and speak to the parlour maid.
I suppose it would be fair to say that a number of the Tory MPs elected in Scotland were thus chosen because of the Tory hard line on the EU. North East Fishing communities have long considered that the EU quota system to have been responsible for a decline in their living standards. Leaving the EU and getting them their fishing rights back was Tory policy.
Note the tense of the verb.
Because, a couple of weeks ago, Wee Govey took himself off to Denmark to reassure the Danes that, of course, they would be able to fish in Scottish waters after the UK left Europe. (Having your cod and eating it?) There was some notion that we actually couldn’t cope with all these fish on our own. Too wee, too poor and too stupid again, I guess
So, yes, the Tories are certainly fighting hard… it’s just that it’s with each other, and not for Scotland.
Apparently, Mrs May spent £20,000 on an RAF flight for Ms Foster from London to Belfast after their talks last week. The magic money tree must still have been bearing fruit at that time because there are cheap flights for as little as £14 from London to Belfast.
I know they are new besties, but seriously, as Arlene doesn’t actually have a job in Northern Ireland, what with her being the cause of the breakdown of the power-sharing government, it wouldn’t have hurt her to go to the airport and wait for RyanAir like the rest of the human race have to do.
Ruth must be incandescent. I bet, despite her being a colonel, May has never laid on military transport for her… and she HAS got a job….well, two actually.
I’ve always thought that Michael Gove was some sort of a cartoon character, not to be taken seriously, from his idiotic beginnings as Education Secretary, to his ridiculous position as Lord Chancellor.
On tv today he defended the tuition fees charged in England (the steepest in Europe) and said that people who didn’t go to university shouldn’t have to subsidise those who do. Mr Gove went to university in 1985. There were no tuition fees then.
Mr Gove went to university in 1985. There were no tuition fees then.
Most enlightened countries realise that it is to the benefit of everyone if we have an educated workforce. More and more jobs indeed require that people be educated to at least bachelor level. So in most of Europe governments make it as easy as possible for people to get to university. And most recognise that people’s ability to take up tertiary education should be based on their ability to learn, rather than their ability to pay.
Of course many people benefit from the education of doctors, lawyers, dentists, nurses, engineers, architects, teachers, etc. That seemed not to occur to Gove.
It’s a pity that Mrs May was “persuaded” by whoever to return Gove to the Cabinet. He may be an asset to Mr Murdoch inside the cabinet but he’s a bit of a liability to the rest of us.
Well, who would have believed it? And the car companies are mainly in the North East of England, which voted so decisively for Brexit.
So, if I had voted to put the country at a huge economic, cultural, education and social disadvantage because I was bent out of shape about us using the metric system and wanted my £ : s : d back along with Sts : lbs : oz and Gallons, quarts, pints and gills, not to mention furlongs, poles, yards, feet and inches, and all the rest, then I think I’d probably be ashamed to write to the papers about it. Oh, and I’m not entirely sure that someone who prefers a system based on the number 10, to a system, build around any number other than 10, could necessarily be called a fetishist.
Reminds me of the story of the supermarket queue in California where a woman was talking on her phone. A man behind her thought she was talking in Spanish and told her that she was in America, she should speak English. The woman explained that she was actually a native American, and she was talking Navajo, NOT Spanish. She politely suggested that if he wanted to speak English, he should go to England!
Incidentally, although I enjoy languages and always try to learn a little of the lingo of whatever country I’m going to visit, I’m not ever able to do much more than say hello, thank you, please, and a few other words. I’m pretty grateful then that no Hungarian launched an attack at me on a bus in Budapest for speaking English. Hungarian has to be the most complex language I’ve ever heard spoken.
It’s as well, when the Orange Order are marching anywhere near your house, to be prepared to clean up after them as you would with your dog. A bucket of disinfectant and a brush will be nnecessary. They seem not to be potty trained.
This would seem to be a reasonable response to them, though.
I’m a great believer in freedom of speech and of freedom to assemble, but these people, quite apart from their lack of toilet training, shout racial abuse at Catholics and Irishmen alike.
I have to ask myself if we want this kind of racism and sectarianism on our streets.