Filed under: British Politics
1866. Talking about the role of statesmen:
The man who above all others was supposed to have stored his mind with all the riches of historical truth and political science, and constitutional lore, in order that he might see farther and soar higher than other men—that he might bring in a knowledge of principles, of precedents, of maxims, of legislative science, in order to foresee, to provide, to avert—and so far as the limitation of poor human faculties will allow it—to foretel and command the future.
Another good way to study for a Campaigns and Elections exam – read coverage of the British elections.
Via Andrew (the sources for all things British politics, especially as far as Stephen Colbert is concerned):
This just about sums up the state of play right now:
A hung parliament is virtually inevitable. With more than 500 seats counted, the BBC is predicting that the Conservatives will end up with 306 seats, Labour 262 seats and the Lib Dems 55 seats. The Conservatives are currently on 37% of the vote, Labour on 28% and the Lib Dems on 23%.
• Gordon Brown has said that it is his “duty” to try to form a stable government. Constitutionally, he is right. Given that the Tories do not have a majority, he is entitled to form a government and to try to get a Queen’s speech through the Commons. He only has to resign if the Queen’s speech is voted down. (Effectively it’s a confidence vote.) Although some reporters travelling with him think he seems gloomy about his long-term prospects, he claims to be “energised” by the result and Labour have started semi-public negotiations with the Lib Dems about a coalition. Ministers such as Lord Mandelson and Alan Johnson have indicated that they would like to do a deal over PR.
I can’t imagine Brown taking this as a mandate to carry on. But the intrigue is just beginning. Latest results here.
And from the CNN of Britain (given that title because of their impressive use of interactive features) – we have the Guardian’s results map.
Kensington, the constituency that I lived in while abroad has reelected a Conservative MP again in Malcolm Rifkind. Again, the Guardian tops all with it’s electoral coverage at the constituency-level. While yes, Britain is a much smaller country than the US, American news media should take note of the information the Guardian has included on the constituency pages: constituency profile, results for 2010, turnout for 2010, results from 1992 (a comparable election), national marginality, notional results from 2005 (what 2005 would have looked like if it had incorporated the redistricting changes that have affected the 2010 results), and party literature. Impressive.
It’s been all people here are talking about – from the meeting the Queen to tea with Sarah Brown.
I’ll let Andrew explain,
“Now we’ve met, will you please keep in touch?” – her Majesty the Queen, to Michelle Obama.
The usual suspects are crowing about an alleged breach of protocol – although as Ed Morrisseypoints out, the Queen started it by putting her hand around Michelle’s back affectionately. The Times of London explains:
A breach of protocol? Hardly. Buckingham Palace was very relaxed today about the incident, and attitudes there have changed significantly since the days of Mr Keating and his lese-majesty. And no, they don’t issue instructions to people about not touching the Queen. “This was a mutual and spontaneous display of affection and appreciation between The Queen and Michelle Obama,” said a Palace spokeswoman.
What they don’t quite understand is how Michelle Obama’s informality and realness was a huge hit, even among the royals. London was agog. This is an America Britons actually relate to in the 21st century. Her best moment came at a London school for girls. I’ll let the Telegraph explain the rest:
Fighting tears at one point, she described her audience as “the future leaders of Great Britain and this world”. She said: “Although the circumstances of our lives may seem very disengaged, with me standing here as the First Lady of the United States of America and you just getting through school, I want you to know we have very much in common. “For nothing in my life ever would have predicted that I would standing here as the first African-American First Lady. “I was not raised with wealth or resources or any social standing to speak of.” She spoke of the importance of love, strong values, education and a “whole lotta hard work” as she described her childhood, and said: “You too, with these values, can control your own destiny, you too can pave the way. “I am an example of what is possible when girls from the very beginning of their lives are loved and nurtured by people around them. “I was surrounded by extraordinary women in my life who taught me about quiet strength and dignity. “Whether you come from a council estate or a country estate, your success will be determined by your own confidence and fortitude. “We are counting on you, we are counting on every single one of you to be the best that you can be.” Mrs Obama provoked hysteria at the school as she arrived, as more than 300 onlookers lined the street nearby.
Yes, the Telegraph is the Tory paper. Not all conservatives look at the Obamas and feel revulsion.
(Photo: Students from the Elizabeth Garrett Anderson Language School in London hug US First Lady Michelle Obama during a visit to the school on April 2, 2009. Michelle Obama dared touch Queen Elizabeth II, but the US first lady has made such an impact in Britain that she was spared the media savaging that has gone with previous breaches of royal protocol. The pair met at Buckingham Palace on Wednesday. The British monarch put her arm around the waist of President’s Barack Obama’s wife. The much taller first lady responded by putting an arm around the queen. By Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty.)
Filed under: British Politics
Important for British politics:
|1||Higher Professional and Managerial||A|
|2||Lower Managerial and Professional||B|
|3||Intermediate occupations||C1 and C2|
|4||Small Employers and non professional self-employed||C1 and C2|
|5||Lower Supervisory and technical||C1 and C2|
|6||Semi Routine Occupations||D|
|8||Long term unemployed||E|
Filed under: British Politics
For more info on the background of this law, check out The Guardian article. Basically, the Labour Government was going to pass a law forcing shortlists of minorities to be listed on the ballot from which party leaders choose who will run for election. It is important to remember that in the UK, party unity is key and the party controls a lot more than parties in the US do – like who will actually run for election.
According to this law, the lists would be made up solely of minorities as ethnic minorities are seriously underrepresented in Parliament.
But, the Government had shelved this law because of a backlash from white voters.
Gotta love how the Brits just come out and say things – a headline like that would never work in the US.
Now, my thoughts.
The Labour government’s solution to this problem – that plagues the US too – is an interesting one, like affirmative action for MP elections.
It’s an interesting solution, but it’s approaching the issue in the wrong way. The parties should select the candidates that best suit their needs and the needs of the constituents. These candidates should be the most qualified to achieve these goals and should be representative of their constituents (mind you there is no residency qualification for MPs in Parliament as there is in the US for our Congressmen).
Obviously something needs to be done to combat this problem – there should be about 60 ethnic minorities in Commons and there are only 15. But this is not the solution. I’m glad that Labour shelved it, even if it was because they were worried about a backlash.
Filed under: British Politics
From The Guardian:
10.42am: Gordon Brown and David Cameron like throwing quotations at each other at PMQs, but I suspect that one of the most interesting quotes we’ve had from a cabinet minister in recent days won’t get used by Cameron this afternoon because it would fall foul of Erskine May. That was the “Richard Mottram” quote in a report by Patrick Wintour on Monday. Patrick wrote: “After watching the slide in bank shares on Friday, one cabinet minister did not altogether joke when he said: ‘The banks are fucked, we’re fucked, the country’s fucked’.”
That was at the end of last week. Since then we’ve had another bank rescue plan that hasn’t exactly restored confidence (Newsnight’s Paul Mason has a good analysis of this on his blog), a series of opinion pollsshowing the Tory lead soaring and, just this morning, dismal unemployment figures. God knows what cabinet ministers are saying in private now.
So, what will Brown and Cameron say today?
David Cameron: If he’s looking for bad news to highlight, his intray is probably overflowing with suggestions. It will be odd if he doesn’t mention unemployment. But he won’t just want to say that things are bad; he will want to suggest that Brown’s policies are flawed. One tactic could be to ask some of those questions to which Brown either does not have an answer or won’t give one (eg how much will the latest bank bailout cost? How long will it last? What’s the revised growth forecast?) because these exchanges can make it look as if Brown is shifty or not fully in control. And he may go back to the “Do you regret saying boom and bust is over?” question, to which Brown hasn’t yet found a plausible answer.
Gordon Brown: Brown’s anti-Tory lines are well-rehearsed – they would cut spending in a recession, they’re the “do nothing” party, and they’re opposing fiscal stimulus policies widely supported by other governments around the world – and I’m sure we’ll hear them again. Benjamin Wegg-Prosser argued this week that the “do nothing” line should be dropped – the Tories do have policies, but they’re the wrong ones, he argued – but I’d be surprised if Brown were to take his advice. When George Osborne responded to the latest bank bailout plans on Monday, he was critical but he didn’t have much to say about an alternative banking strategy. He also talked about the possibility of the UK going bankrupt. Brown may attack the Tories for talking down Britain.
What do you think they will, or should, say?
12.01pm: Brown starts with condolences to the families of three soldiers killed in Afghanistan.
12.02pm: He also sends his best wishes to Barack Obama on behalf of the country. He will strengthen relationship between the two countries. He applauds Obama for his fiscal stimulus policy.
Douglas Carswell (Harwich, Conservative) asks why Labour MPs are being whipped to vote to exempt MPs from the Freedom of Information Act.
12.04pm: Brown says he there will be free vote (contradicting what the government was saying this morning). He thought he had Tory support on this. But the Tory support was withdrawn. So he’s blaming the Tories for reneging on a deal.
12.04pm: I gather my colleague David Hencke will be reporting more details on this very soon.
Holocaust memorial day
Brown praises this initiative.
The Tory leader also pays tribute to the dead servicemen.
He also agrees with Brown in sending good wishes to Obama.
12.06pm: Moving on to unemployment, he says the figures remind us of the real effect the recession is having. The economy faces “dark days indeed”. Does Brown accept that the market reaction to Monday’s announcement shows that there is no confidence that the government’s measures are working?
12.07pm: Brown says he regrets every job lost. The key thing is to help people to get another job.
The fact that Obama is proposing a fiscal stimulus shows the world can work together. “I’ll you what Obama did not say yesterday: ‘Fellow Americans, let’s do nothing.’”
12.09pm: Cameron says Obama will not be putting up national insurance for people earning £19,000. The RBS and Lloyds have both seen their share prices plummet. And the pound is falling too. Will Brown confirm that he has announced an insurance scheme for toxic assets without saying how long it will last or how much it will cost?
12.10pm: Brown says the lesson learned in every country in the world is that, when markets fail, the government must step in. Under his plans, banks will have to pay a fee. Under the asset protection scheme, bank liabilities will be audited. The government will report back to the Commons when it has finalised the details. It is similar to schemes being proposed elsewhere. Cameron has to decide whether he supports state intervention.
12.12pm: Cameron lists some of the Tory policies he says Brown has copied. “He’s behind the curve on every single issue.” He mentions Kenneth Clarke, the new shadow business secretary: “The difference between this former chancellor and that former chancellor [Brown] is that this one left a golden legacy and that one wrecked it.” Does Brown agree with Lord Myners in saying that the bank rescue policy could last nine years?
12.12pm: Brown quotes Boris Johnson as saying “the government is doing what it can” to get credit flowing. Johnson also said London could emerge better placed thanks to government investment.
12.14pm: Cameron says Clarke, Johnson and Cameron all agree Brown is making “a complete mess of the economy”. Brown gives no answer about the insurance scheme. In the first bank bail-out the government spent £37bn. Brown said at the time that the government’s shareholding would “grow in value”. Will Brown confirm the government has lost £20bn because its shareholdings have declined in values?
12.15pm: Brown does not address this. He says Cameron does not understand the government has a duty to help. Cameron does not know what his policy is on banks, because it changes from day to day.
12.15pm: Cameron says Brown is the only person in the country who thinks he is doing a good job. He puts the question about the bank shares again.
12.17pm: Brown tries explaining what the point of recapitalisation was. As Tories interrupt, he says the Tories should “grow up”. He says the plan was about saving the banks.
Cameron says if Brown wants to ask him questions, he should call an election. He quotes the employment minister, Tony McNulty, saying he can see light at the end of the tunnel. He quotes Margaret Beckett, who suggested at the weekend that the housing market was picking up, and Lady Vadera and Brown saying that he had saved the world as evidence that ministers are out of touch.
12.17pm: Brown says Cameron has “no idea” what he would do. Cameron says people can do nothing about the recession, he says. Cameron is “out of step with the rest of the world and he’s out of his depth”.
Andrew Mackinlay (Lab, Thurrock) asks why Lloyds has not been prosecuted for laundering money from Iran. I’m not sure what allegations he is referring to.
Brown says they are serious. He will look into them. But Britain is “leading the world” in enforcing sanctions against Iran.
The Lib Dem leader also pays tribute to the servicemen and welcomes Obama’s inauguration. He praises Obama’s decision about theGuantánamo tribunals.
He says the economy is standing at the edge of a cliff. The government has not restored confidence in the economy, he says.
12.21pm: Brown outlines what he has done.
Clegg says there is an “extreme danger” in any ambiguity in the government’s position. He calls for the full, temporary nationalistion of the weakest banks without delay.
12.22pm: Brown explains why the withdrawal of international credit increased the credit problem in the UK. That is the problem he’s trying to deal with. That problem will be there whatever the status of the banks.
Diane Abbott (Lab, Hackney North and Stoke Newington) says that when someone whose father would not have been served in Washington restaurants 60 years ago becomes president, that shows anything is possible.
Edward Garnier (Con, Harborough) raises the MPs’ expenses issue again.
12.24pm: Brown says there had been discussions with the opposition party about the move. The Tories had agreed. They’ve changed their mind. So there will be further discussions.
Dennis Skinner (Lab, Bolsover) wants to know what action will be taken against bankers who have “run their banks into the ground”. He calls them “Tory fat cats represented by the [Conservatives]“. In another generation they would have been described as “the enemy within”.
12.26pm: Brown says it’s a global problem.
Bob Spink, the ex-Tory MP who now sits for Ukip, praises Brown’s record. This is unusual. “Doing something is better than doing nothing,” he says. Sounds like a briefing note from the Labour whips’ office …
12.28pm: Spink would like Brown to have a meeting to discuss pensioners.
Brown calls him an independent member. I think he means independent-minded.
Brown says he has troubled Britain’s humanitarian aid to the Gaza Strip.
EU development funding
Sir Alan Beith (Lib Dem, Berwick-upon-Tweed) asks why the government is not lobbying for EU regional development aid for the north-east of England.
Brown says he does not know of any north-eastern company having an application for aid rejected.
Ronnie Campbell (Lab, Blyth Valley) says Brown should nationalise all the banks.
Brown mentions Obama’s programme (again).
Jacqui Lait (Con, Beckenham) asks if Brown is talking down the value of the banks to make it cheaper to nationalise them. “No,” says Brown.
Brown v Cameron: A draw, I think. A routine slugfest without any memorable lines. Cameron twice tried to get Brown to confirm that the Treasury had lost money from last year’s bank recapitalisation, but generally he threw a series of different questions at Brown so none of them particularly tended to “stick” in the mind. Brown stressed the apparent international isolation of the Tories and he obviously doesn’t agree with Wegg-Prosser. At least once he used the “do nothing” jibe.
A U-turn over MPs’ expenses: So much for the the briefing overnight about Labour MPs being forced to vote for the proposals to exempt MPs from FoI. There was a rethink this morning. David Hencke has filed a story here.
Obama inspires Brown: I’m not sure that the election of Barack Obama will make that much difference to UK domestic politics. But that’s not what Brown thinks. He couldn’t stop mentioning him, or rather trying to co-opt him to the Labour side of the argument about economic policy. I lost count of how many times he came up.
Nick Clegg: Clegg is now explicitly calling for bank nationalisation (along with the Labour left). Given that many economists seem to think this is where we’ll eventually end up, this may well turn out to be quite prescient.