Wednesday, 22 March 2023

Lessons in politics: no appointment reviews, too many undeserved peers, bad arguments, no fixed terms, no general election, confusing public image

What have I picked up from politics recently?

#1.  There is not a committee that reviews appointments to the Cabinet as there is in the US.  This means that the PM can appoint whomever he wishes.  And if that person happens not to be a current MP, then he/she is made a peer.

#2.  The appointment of peers to serve in the House of Lords is certainly unique to the UK.  The US does not have a House of Lords, but it has a Senate (the upper chamber) and they are not appointed.  However, it would be very difficult to make the House of Lords electable.  There are still some who are hereditary peers and that is an accident of birth.  Personally, I like this link to Olde England.  But, unfortunately, public discontent with the system means that the Lords is indeed in trouble.  Had previous hereditary lords taken their civic role more seriously, we might not be in this mess.  As it is, we are now in danger of having people sit there at the discretion of the government.  Instead of having elected lords, how about proposing that peerages are granted after public referendum.  Let the people be the judge as regards a person’s level of service and how worthy it is of a peerage.  All too often knighthoods and peerages are bestowed too early and the recipient does not live up to the honour.

#3.  Some people like to make the same arguments despite evidence to the contrary.  Take, for example, the argument that Brown was unelected.  How can this claim be made?  He was elected by his constituents to be MP.  From there, he became Chancellor.  When Blair stepped down, there was a nomination inside the Labour party for leadership.  Unfortunately, his only contender (John McDonnell) did not receive enough nominations for it to go to a vote.  Therefore, the leadership was handed to him.  It may appear as if Blair just handed over the keys, but the party did “choose” a leader.  Isn’t that essentially what happens in each party?  Unlike the US, UK voters do not vote for the PM, the majority party’s leader takes the role.  Another example of clinging onto null arguments is that the Tories are a “do-nothing” party.  They are the Opposition, they do not make policy.  However, when they have come up with ideas in the past, the Labour party has stolen them.  So, does the Labour party really deserve credit for any of the “good” ideas?

#4.  Having a term limit but allowing for elections to be called earlier allows people to make demands for electioins when they are fed up with the government.  Is this good or bad?  Of course, there are some advantages (such as to Gordon Brown right now), but there are downsides (such as what Gordon Brown is doing right now).

#5.  Gordon Brown did not listen to the calls for an election.  People are still demanding that, but there also appears to be a smaller component of the public worrying about what a general election would mean right now, especially after the BNP wins at the EU election.  There is a backlash and the public has seen that protest votes certainly do benefit some minority parties.  I have never been a great believer in public polls because people tend not to tell the truth. 

#6.  Public image is extremely important, though, people’s interpretation of that image varies widely.  Some people see Brown as dour and dull, not to mention unintelligent.  Others see that dourness as a sign of seriousness and intelligence.  Others find Brown’s smile smarmy and spinny, while others see it as sincere.  It’s hard to really get a concensus on any one politician’s public image.

I cannot vote, but I have interests in the outcome of the political process.  After all, I had made the decision to raise my children in this country, which is their heritage.  I need to ensure that the country will serve their best interests in the long run.

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