I just heard that some guy named Gordon Brown is now the Prime Minister of the UK, or England, or Britain, or whatever Tony Blair was in charge of. What happened to Blair? This has not been on the US news at all and I usually depend on Reddit and CoT to keep me up with important news, but Reddit's really the anti-bush channel, and CoT is the, uh, deviant sex channel? Not sure. Anyway, fill me in on this Brown dude. What's the 411?
Blair finished his stint in Parliament a couple of weeks ago. It was briefly in the news, but I think Paris Hilton was getting out of jail at about the same time, so ...
Yup, Blair resigned, gave over (FINALLY! Brown's been waiting like 10 years) the office to Brown, who HAD been the Secretary of the Treasury. As had been arranged earlier.
Brown almost immediately (3 days later, I understand) had to deal with the National Health Sevice Doctors who set bombs in cars at Glasgow and London.
Doctors who incidentally were immigrants or temporary residents from overseas.
And "bombs" which were not in fact capable of exploding, but it made for a good fuss.
I don't know - is Blair still an MP, just not the Prime Minister any more? Or did he quit Parliament altogether?
I really should know these things.
Tony Blair resigned as Prime Minister, resigned his elected seat in Parliament at the same time, and headed off to pastures green far way from politics. Effectively felt that he had been in the job for long enough and it was time to leave and hand over to someone else.
I hope he doesn't get a job as a lobbyist for the Bush administration.
Not far wrong, AG. His new job is roving international peace ambassador for the Middle East.
The UK does not elect a prime minister directly. It elects a party (in this case, Labour) who fills government positions. Blair got the prime minister job.
Since Blair has fallen out of favour lately the party had to replace him so as not to risk their position in government.
> It elects a party
It elects Members of Parliament who stand as individuals (except in NI were they have some kind of party-based PR system), although noting their party affiliation.
That is why an MP can change party without standing for re-election, and when an MP quits or dies, a special election ("by election") is held to replace him/her rather than the party just picking a replacement.
The Queen then offers Prime Minister job to whoever can command the majority of MPs.
The Prime Minister is then responsible for choosing his cabinet (which is the government ministers and the effectively the executive).
It's true that in people's heads, most think that they are voting for a party, or even for the party leader that they want to be PM --- but the underlying reality is considerably more complicated.
It's also interesting that one of the first things Gordon Brown did is select some people from outside parliament to fill a few ministerial positions. It's a nice idea because you can bring in people with real world experience not confined to a lifetime in politics. Although it's always been possible, it's rarely been done in the past.
> The Queen then offers Prime Minister job to whoever can command the majority of MPs.
And the best part?
The "whoever" doesn't necessarily even need to be somebody in the House of Commons!
> Although it's always been possible, it's rarely been done in the past.
There's a good reason.
If the person isn't in the House of Commons, or House or Lords, there's no way for Parliament to easily call them to account.
It's fundamentally undemocratic and anti-open-government, for him to turn the cabinet into a quango.
I was going to mention that all the people selected for those ministerial posts are also appointed to a seat in the Lords. So they can be held to account by parliament.
Is Admiral Sir Alan West in the House of Lords?
I was under the impression that he refused, while accepting the anti-terrorism job.
What a fascinating country. It leads to arguments such as the rationale for the House of Lords. Namely, don't put too much trust in this Democracy thing as the system is still new and has yet to prove itself. Additionally, don't write off the merits of politicians born into the position as there's a small chance they can actually be decent people whereas the people who specifically seek public office are generally equally contemptible.
Most of the House of Lords is appointed by the current and previous governments, and are "life peers".
Blair tried to abolish heriditary (sp?) peers, abolished many, but didn't quite make it.
I think Alan West would have had to accept a seat in the Lords to fill a ministerial post in government. I don't think the constitution allows otherwise. I saw some news report that he became Lord West today in fact.
And the thing is, there is no fixed term for a government.
Essentially, the sitting Prime Minister can call an election at any time. He doesn't have to, but if he wanted to, he could stick around forever.
Having said that they normally hold them every four years or so.
July 12th, 2007 5:28am
Parliament lasts for 5 years unless a bill is passed by both houses (House of Lords can veto) and receives the Royal Assent.
looks like I need to keep up with the times.
>>Originally there was no fixed limit on the length of a Parliament, but the Triennial Act 1694 set the maximum duration at three years. As the frequent elections were deemed inconvenient, the Septennial Act 1716 extended the maximum to seven years, but the Parliament Act 1911 reduced it to five. During the Second World War, the term was temporarily extended to ten years by Acts of Parliament. Since the end of the war the maximum has remained five years. Modern Parliaments, however, rarely continue for the maximum duration; normally, they are dissolved earlier. For instance, the 52nd, which assembled in 1997, was dissolved after four years.
July 12th, 2007 5:44am
Four years is typical. Mostly because every time a government tries to string it out everybody they've pissed off goes all out to make them look bad in the final year. If they go after four they just get the 6-8 week run up to the election...and yes proper general election campaigns are only 6-8 weeks long.
Gordon's main thing at the moment is denying anything to do with Blair. Which is bollocks, given that for much of the last 10 years he had an effective veto on government policy.