Monday, May 18, 2009

Constitutional revolution postponed indefinitely

Where is John Hampden when we need him?

The House of Commons has rejected the opportunity to reaffirm its control over the Speaker's position. What chance of them ever reaffirming their control over legislation?

Speaker Martin made a statement in which he announced that they were all guilty and the public had been let down and there should be a meeting between the party leaders and no, they were not going to debate Douglas Carswell's Early Day Motion.

No MP had the guts to move that the Speaker leave the Chair so the debate should continue.

David Cameron, having supported the Speaker has now called for the dissolution of Parliament and a General Election as soon as possible after June 4. Right. That is, of course, going to happen. Why didn't he support his own back-bench MP in his EDM? Incidentally, this proves that EDMs are a complete waste of time, something I have been saying for years.

The other thing the whole hullaballoo proves is that the official opposition will hide behind alleged conventions because they are, in the words of their last great leader, "frit".

David Cameron also said that the June 4 vote will be a vote on whether people want a general election. He is still pursuing those eurosceptic votes that are eluding the Conservative Party. The vote on June 4 will be for members of the Toy Parliament. It may well turn into a verdict on the entirel political class. That means you, Mr Cameron and your friends.

UPDATE: The Speaker's Statement and the subsequent debate is now on the Parliamentary website. I apologize to the readers of this blog: unwisely I have taken Speaker Martin's comment about Douglas Carswell's Motion at face value. I ought to have known he would get it wrong.

The Motion will appear in the Order Paper tomorrow as a Substantive Motion on Future Business of the House. Mr Carswell adds (and I do wish his blog's spelling were a bit better):
There is no precedent for such a motion in Erskine May. However, I am advised that given that this is the first direct challenge to the authority of a sitting Speaker in over 300 years, it is not unreasonable to assume that he now request the government find time for a debate on it.
We shall see. One also wonders whether Mr Cameron will finally realize that the procedure of the House of Commons is of greater importance than his endless calls for an election now, now, now.


  1. Hear, Hear!

    In all the talk about democracy amongst MPs not one actually seems to know what the true meaning of the word is.

    If they did then there would be an outcry for adoption of Carswell and Hannan's The Plan!

  2. It wasn't an EDM, Carswell was quite clear..."It will appear in the Order Paper as a Substantive Motion on Future Business of the House (Remaining Orders)", and even the Speaker got it wrong!

  3. Is there no understanding in this institution that it is so broken, in the mind of Joe Public, that the removal of one member is almost completely irrelevant?

  4. Michael Martin is the Speaker, not 'Speaker Martin'.

  5. He is not one member, Alfred, he is the Speaker.

    Historically, there are references to Speaker Lenthall so I upgraded the man. he does not deserve that, I agree.

  6. Let me rephrase that. Is there no understanding in this institution, that it is so broken, in the mind of Joe Public, that the removal of one member, no matter how senior or self important, is almost completely irrelevant?

  7. Calling for an election enables Cameron to avoid the issue of what to do with his peculating MPs. If Cameron had any courage (and I doubt that he has) he would put the mark of Cain on these benefit frauds and withdraw the whip. Instead, he tells Constituency associations, who are often in thrall to their MP, to deselect.
    They won't do this and so the futures of the likes of the ghastly Alan Duncan, the fiddling Mackays and Douggie "The Moat" Hogg are assured. They will be back.

  8. The trouble is that the public has deliberately been kept in the dark (and let's face it, has acquiesced in that state of affairs - no need to blame politicians only) about what is and what is not happening in that institution, by which you mean Parliament, I take it. The whole expenses scandal is a symptom but is seen as an underlying malaise. That goes much deeper. But the public has a duty as well - we all do in a democracy. And the first duty is to find out what it is we are part of in reality.

  9. What are we part of? A limited company makes our law and order policy (ACPO). Ministers seem to have no power over their departments even though they have become increasingly politicised. Labour MEPs tell us that only 9% of our laws are made by the EU (Corbett), that the Lisbon treaty is not the constituion (PM Brown) etc etc.

    We are part of a system of deep deception based on lies and falsehoods. And what can we do? Vote once in 5 years. Write to MPs - mine just sends back standard government policy sound bites and votes 100% of the time for the government.

    What are you suggesting?

  10. Well, we could start by not accepting that Speaker Martin's resignation is a victory for anyone but the government. And by understanding that ACPO does not make policy - it has no constitutional standing. Beyond that, harassing politicians (they really hate it) and voting for none of the above, as Tebbit has suggested could be a good start.

  11. Of course you are right, but ... From Lord West of Spithead: May 7th, This seems to come very close to actually making policy. [My emphasis below]

    The Association of Chief Police Officers is an independent organisation made up of representatives of forces in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, which works in partnership with both the Government and the Association of Police Authorities to co-ordinate the direction and development of the police service.

    ACPO plays a key role advising the Government on behalf of the police service as a whole on major national projects aimed at developing the capacity of the service.
    It also advises on how to tackle serious and ongoing strategic threats that might put the public at risk. In times of national need, ACPO is specifically tasked with co-ordinating the strategic policing response on behalf of all chief officers.

  12. Advisers advise and ministers decide. That is how the system is supposed to work. That, of course, includes sometimes ignoring the advisers' advice. Also, there is a difference between policy and co-ordination of actual strategy. You may want ministers involved in that but probably not be completely in charge. Ultimately, ACPO can do only what it is allowed to do by the government. Parliament ought to be involved but, either way, they are not policy makers or law makers. There are quangos that actually are that.

  13. Maybe you will be posting more on this at some time in the future thus it is not a subject worth pursuing in the comments section.

    I see organisations that play a key role advising the Government as of far more concern than you do, but maybe I worry to much. Are we seeing a shift to the European idea of funding organisations to play a key role advising the Government on those things that the government wants implemented as policy.

    An article in this month's Imprimis, aimed at the USA, struck home with me. "Live Free or Die by Mark Steyn"

    Steyn warns the USA of creeping government control of our lives, by looking at what is happening in Europe and the UK in particular. He remarks "If you're a business, when government gives you 2% of your income, it has a veto on 100% of what you do. If you're an individual, the impact is even starker. Once you have government health care, it can be used to justify almost any restraint on freedom: After all, if the state has to cure you, it surely has an interest in preventing you needing treatment in the first place. That's the argument behind, for example, mandatory motorcycle helmets, "I see the ACPO ltd Co route as one worrying aspect of this creep of government control.

  14. It is not really a subject to be discussed in comments and, undoubtedly, I shall be blogging on it again. However, I would like to point out that Mark Steyn is not always correct about the situation in Britain or Europe.