Friday, July 25, 2008

How bad for UK Labor? They are comparing it to Canada.

Gordon Brown's Labor Party lost another safe seat in a by-election yesterday, and the party is so scared it's raising an "arcane" comparison: the annihilation of Brian Mulroney's Conservatives in 1993.

Mostly Britain has had the remedy for this. Britain is a parliamentary democracy. So when a leader becomes as unpopular as Gordon Brown, the backbenchers simply remove the leader and choose someone more electable (sorry, Margaret Thatcher, it was good while it lasted, but...).

But UK Labor has gone far toward adopting the once uniquely-Canadian perversion of parliamentary accountability. Rather than being constantly accountable to the caucus of MPs actually elected by the people, British Labor leaders can now invoke their leadership convention endorsement by a mob of people who purchased the right to vote for ten bucks or so. Since the convention dissolved as soon as it chose the leader, there's no awkward problem of accountability. A leader (Mulroney, Tony Blair, Chretien) can pretty much stay on as long as they like.

Maybe Gordon Brown will regain popularity. Maybe he will simply go quietly. Most likely he'll stay on; leaders always stay too long. For having surrendered their right to make and unmake parliamentary leaders, a lot of Labor MPs will end up not just out of power but out of Parliament all together.

Late update: union leader tells Labor MPs they can "back him or sack him." Why don't Canadians give their MPs that kind of assignment?
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