01 May 2009

Turbulence across the pond

Last year we Americans kicked out a flagrantly-incompetent and deeply-unpopular government which had grown arrogant and out-of-touch after being in power too long. Some time in the next 14 months -- and, it now looks, perhaps sooner rather than later -- the British will get a chance to do the same.

Background: The Labour party has governed Britain since winning a landslide victory in 1997. Like the Bush administration, it has presided over an outrageous government-spending binge and led its country into the unpopular Iraq war. There has also been a series of scandals and displays of ineptitude, while officials enrich themselves by "snouting at the trough" of public funds. Perhaps most unpopular of all is the large-scale Muslim immigration into Britain (though this has been happening everywhere in western Europe, regardless of which party was in power), though the main concern is Islamic cultural imperialism and abuse of the public benefits system, not competition for jobs. The government's feeble response to Islamist provocations, and an attitude of political correctness reminiscent of the US 25 or 30 years ago, infuriate the public. Consequently, the Labour party is now badly trailing the rival Conservative party in the polls (note that "conservative" in western Europe has a very different meaning than in the US; it is not associated with religious fanaticism, which hardly exists there except among Muslims, and British "Conservatives" are to the left of our Democrats on economics). This video of Daniel Hannan, a British member of the EU Parliament, denouncing Prime Minister Gordon Brown caused a sensation in Britain a month ago (the smirking man in the purple tie seen at 2:55 is Brown; I would have loved to watch someone telling off Bush to his face like this when he was still in power).

The British political system is structured very differently from our own three-branch system. There is no written Constitution, nor a Supreme Court to override unconstitutional legislation; nor is there a separate executive branch. The Prime Minister is merely the head of whichever party controls Parliament, rather as if the most senior member of whichever party controlled Congress automatically became President (an important effect of this is that British voters cannot limit the head of state's power by giving control of the legislature to the party opposite to his, as American voters often do). Elections do not happen at fixed intervals; they must be no more than five years apart, but can be held earlier if the ruling party so decides or if an important Parliamentary vote goes against the ruling party and forces a crisis.

The next election deadline is in mid-2010, but a Parliamentary crisis may arrive much sooner. The penultimate straw landed on the camel this week in the form of a vote concerning the "Gurkhas", Nepalese soldiers who have served in the British military (this is a long-standing tradition) and the right of about 36,000 of them to settle in Britain. Brown's government favored rules which would have excluded most of them, citing the cost; Parliament voted down the restrictions. The Gurkhas are popular in Britain, and Brown's sudden reticence about admitting 36,000 of them did not sit well with a population already exasperated at the presence of over two million Muslim immigrants; more on these issues here. Brown has been humiliated and his power is eroding; it's too soon to say that an early election will be necessary, but it could happen. One can only hope it does. Just imagine where we'd be now if we'd been able to get rid of Bush a year early.


Anonymous NickM said...

The Gurkhas have served almost 200 years in the British military with great distinction.


01 May, 2009 10:49  
Blogger Ranch Chimp said...

Interesting piece. I am not up on the British situation these day's, it seem's much different then I remember, and really a mess these day's. Especially all of Europe on this culture clash or whatever they may call it with the muslim situation.

Thanx Guy.......

01 May, 2009 12:23  
Blogger Alessandro Machi said...

Part of the unrest in England relates to the credit card crisis. Seriously. This is a world wide problem.

Help Daily-Protest.com grow by making a Daily-Protest.com sign and posting it where others will see it. You don't have to protest on the streets, just help make others aware that there is a CHASE BANK CREDIT CARD protest going on. Thank you.

01 May, 2009 15:10  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

Nick -- Thanks for the link.

RC -- Things seem to have changed a lot over there. Unfortunately, where political leadership is concerned, much of it is not for the better.

Alessandro -- I am really starting to think that if an all-out nuclear war erupted, you would say it was because Putin was mad about an increase in the minimum payment on his Chase card! Good grief, there are other issues in the world! :-)

01 May, 2009 15:18  

Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home