Tuesday, April 29, 2014

History of parliament

In Britain yesterday, some government policy on high-speed rail passed with the Labour opposition mostly in favour (!), but with close to thirty members of the Conservative caucus voting against their own government's bill.  Several ministers made a point of not being present to vote. Guardian Online has the story.

Scandal?  Coup d'etat?  Government in crisis?  MPs to be booted from caucus, cabinet heads rolling?

Nah, it's pretty much business as usual.

See, in Britain governments are accountable to their backbenchers, not vice versa.  So when backbenchers don't like what the government is doing (or see their constituents don't like it!), they vote against it.  And the government has to scramble to get other backers, or else back down.  When enough backbenchers are enough displeased with enough government policies, they will change the leadership.  That's parliamentary democracy.

Parliamentary democracy ...  wish we practised it in Canada.
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