The Futility Monster

He'll pointlessly derive more enjoyment out of your resources than you

Posts Tagged ‘British constitution’

David Miliband: The Radical

Posted by The Futility Monster on February 10, 2010 @ 09:20

Poor David. But will he get a chance when the clunking fist is no longer in command?

Last night a story sneaked out about how a senior member of the Labour party might actually want some real reform to the British system.

The Guardian claimed that David Miliband is in favour of a “reset referendum”, allowing the electorate to cast a verdict on the nature of our political institutions.

The worrying nature of this article is that it’s very thin on detail. I like his language. I like the idea of radical change to our rotten system, but am totally sceptical about it ever actually happening. After all, last night a mere 69 MPs voted for the thing that would revolutionise British politics: STV.

What does David Miliband intend then? He must have ideas of his own about what he’d like to see, but he is hiding behind the idea, I think, of calling a constitutional convention, something the people of England have never had the pleasure of enjoying.

Note the use of the word England. Scotland had a constitutional convention which produced the blueprint towards Scottish devolution. It worked to such a degree that the Scottish political settlement is now firmly entrenched and is playing an active part in the lives of Scottish residents.

Yes, us poor Englanders have always had to accept the status quo. Our institutions have been grandfathered to such an extent that any proposals for reform are invariably seen as heresy. Indeed, it’s only amazing that the AV referendum got through the Commons last night until you realise that most MPs saw it as a free vote for “change” that will never actually happen.

A constitutional convention could be just what the doctor ordered for the entire political settlement of Britain. A chance to start again and look at the way we want our government to be organised through 21st century eyes.

Perhaps we could have a live twitter stream of the thoughts of the voters flashing up within the Commons so they can see the public’s reaction to their behaviour…

Of course, I’m being facetious, but we do need to look at the way in which we communicate these days and make the British polity more responsive to that.

David Miliband may not truly understand the extensive nature of the proposal he has suggested. But I’m at least pleased to see that some of our major political figures are still thinking that recent changes are still only tinkering.

I know the Lib Dems would support a constitutional convention. Of course the Tories won’t.

But maybe a future Labour opposition will realise they have a real battle on their hands, and can harvest the cynicism in the British public regarding politics to challenge Cameron’s Model New Tories…

It’s just a dream, eh.


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Whither Brown?

Posted by The Futility Monster on June 27, 2009 @ 18:45

Never a frown, with Gordon Brown

Never a frown, with Gordon Brown

I am especially pleased about the title of this post, as it reminds me so much of various essays and journal articles from my student days. “Whither” has that suitable aura of superior academic stuffiness that makes even the most disinterested politico sit up and take note that this really is going to be something you’re going to find interesting…

Erm. Yes. Anyway…

Brown is finished. I have long held this view; I’m no Johnny-come-lately to this party. It’s so easy to bash Brown that I do actually start to pity him. One wonders whether that is actually his secret electoral weapon: that in the end he will be so hated that the voters actually start to feel sorry for him; that they should feel guilty about the ongoing ritual public humiliation that we have witnessed almost from day one.

But it wasn’t always like this…

Hands up: I admit I was once a Brown fan. In my naive youth, when I thought politicians actually meant what they say, I saw a speech by Gordon Brown. His 2003 address to the Labour Party conference was delivered at the peak of Blair’s unpopularity due to the Iraq war and at the time it was like a breath of fresh air to me. It felt like the whole country wanted that to happen – because there was this colossus waiting in the wings to deliver us from evil.

Indeed, I thought it was superb, powerful oratory (how silly of me: I soon realised what that actually was when I saw Obama at the 2004 Democratic National Convention (and promptly told my friends he would be the next Democrat candidate; to which they replied “Who?” and I now have all the bragging rights)). Brown’s piece of political theatre made me think “Here’s a man who actually has Labour principles, unlike Tony Blair”.

From that point on, it has been all downhill between me and Brown. I know he’s particularly upset about it, but these days, I couldn’t give a toss.

As time wore on, it became apparent that the man is a serial liar. Uncomfortable in his own skin, with breathtaking arrogance or ignorance – whichever the situation calls for – typified by that bizarre moment in Autumn 2007 when he denied calling off the election because polls were showing he would lose. I had already seen these signs, and I spent the whole of 2006 arguing with Labour-leaning friends that Brown would not be the answer to their prayers. It just didn’t add up to me: how could a man who was such a central part of the New Labour project be so different to his contemporaries?

Sure enough, he wasn’t. My friends were suffering the same rose-tinted view that I held in 2003. They really need to learn from the Monster that cynicism has its place in politics: centre stage. 

I also argued that Brown should recognise that our ever-changing constitution required he go straight to the country for a mandate to govern. We may elect MPs, but there’s no doubt we’re voting for a government. Brown has never had any electoral legitimacy, part of the reason why he is so rejected by the public. I hope we never have another “unelected” prime minister again for this reason: times have changed, and a more honest politican than Brown would have appreciated that.

Naturally, Brown is not interested in my sage advice. Perhaps he should be though. If, instead, his first act as Prime Minister had been to ask for a dissolution of Parliament, I’ve no doubt he would have won because the Tories were not ready. The election would also have been held on the old boundaries, giving Labour an immediate boost. He would now be just two years into a (no doubt) five year term. There would be no clamour for an election, because his mandate to govern would still have been apparent.

Instead we’re left with this sad spectacle of seeing a man in decline, dragging a nation in decline into the sewer.

Make no mistake about it – there is nothing left for Brown in British politics. He has neither the time nor the authority to do anything else.

We just have to sit tight for ten months to let this failed experiment with an illegitimate, powerless Prime Minister draw to its inevitable conclusion: with a thumping defeat at the ballot box.

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