Monday, June 27, 2016

British Parliament goes all Canadian

Maybe they could turn it into a bingo hall
Spectacularly repudiated in the referendum he launched in Britain, after he had been defied for months by much of his cabinet and caucus on a fundamental matter of government policy, after he had put to referendum a matter which surely was the responsibility of Parliament to decide,  British Prime Minister David Cameron declared last Friday, well, yes, he would have to resign.*

With an asterisk,though.  He would resign next October, more or less, probably.

Why the hell was he not gone by Friday lunchtime?  Her Majesty was right there in Buck House (or one of her other palaces, I don't know). The whole thing could have been wrapped up in an hour.

The British Conservative Party has gone all Canadian in making Parliament irrelevant. Parliament had no say in whether Britain would leave Europe or stay. (Indeed, cabinet had no say, many leading cabinet members having defied cabinet solidarity - and remained in cabinet.) Now the parliamentary caucus is being told it must not remove a disastrously failed leader but must allow him to leave on his own schedule, at some futher time of his own choosing. In October, if he does go, anyone who buys a vote in the race will be able to determine which latest clod becomes leader and prime minister, probably without the support of most of the Conservative caucus

Should not the parliamentary caucus simply tell Cameron they have lost confidence in him, and choose his successor? That's parliamentary democracy.

The Labor party caucus, meanwhile, is asserting its authority, as Labor MPs steadily announce withdrawal of support from leader Jeremy Corbyn, another figurehead imposed on the party by a mass vote that had much the same hysteria and bad faith as the Brexit referendum. But it's mostly a con and a stunt. The caucus is unwilling to hold a vote to sustain or remove Corbyn. [Update: see note below]  And even if they do remove him, they will not replace him, but simply trigger another of the crazy uncontrolled mass votes that put him in office in the first place.

Both parties have surrendered to the worst kind of plebiscitary excess, first in letting a complex matter of public policy be left to a crude Yes/No vote by te public at large, second in doing pretty much the same for party leadership.  It's almost.... Canadian.

Update, same day:  The Guardian now reports that Labor party MPs will vote on Corbyn's leadership tomorrow. They are unCanadian to that extent -- MPs agree they can fire the boss. However, Corbyn retains support outside the caucus, who presumably will attempt to sustain him in another mass-party vote no matter what MPs do, and may even encourage him to ignore the will of caucus.

Update, June 28:  Dale Smith gets it:
Meanwhile, the meltdown happening in the UK’s Labour Party, with a problematic leader who refuses to resign in the face of a full-blown caucus revolt, is another object lesson in why membership selection of party leaders is a terrible, terrible system because it gives those leaders an excuse to refuse to be held to account, citing a “democratic mandate” as Jeremy Corbyn is doing right now.  [....]
Accountability matters, and needs to be balanced with democracy. Membership selection of leaders does not provide the needed accountability, and the horrifying lesson of a leader who won’t be held to account is playing out right now and should give everyone pause about the system that we blazed the trail for in this country.
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