Skip to main content

Johnson's dangerous game

Our executive is answerable to parliament. That is how our system works. We meddle with it at our peril. Boris Johnson has stepped over a line by preventing Parliament from holding him to account, while his government make momentous decisions that will affect all our lives for decades. Boris is not a President, and we are not a Republic. This is why behaving like Trump is unsuitable for our system. Boris is not a President. He is not a head of state. No MP and no Prime Minister should be above the laws made by parliament. Looking for technical dodges to circumvent the will of parliament disrespects our constitution. Whatever our views on Brexit are, we must not allow them to destroy the legislative principles so many have fought for in the past.

The United Kingdom has been plunged into a constitutional crisis.   A minority government with no mandate to govern, propped up by the DUP, has effectively stymied debate.  Proroguing parliament for no other reason than preventing it from holding his government to account is a travesty of the conventions of our unwritten constitution.   Sadly, the country is so divided on Brexit that it colours our reaction to this travesty.  

Views divide on Leave vs Brexit sides.  That is dangerous.  It is like saying, as long as I agree with the policies pursued by the government then they can ride roughshod over our constitution.   One day we will awake to find that the very parliament we need is gone.  The government can no longer be held to account.   

When we see governments abroad suspending parliaments our government, of whatever hue, usually condemns it.   Yet, effectively that is what this government has done.  It has suspended parliament and prevented it doing its job of scrutiny.   For a few weeks, the government has taken all power.  MPs have had to wrestle information from the executive about the consequences of leaving with no-deal.  Information the government sought to deny the people's right to know.  

The United Kingdom has an unwritten constitution and largely it runs on conventions and Acts of Parliament.  Crucially Parliament can only work by cooperation on the agenda, with the government and opposition ensuring time is made available for scrutiny and debate.  There is no single Act of Parliament that specifies the role of Prime Minister.   A Prime Minister does not have a personal mandate over and above that of the political parties or Parliament. 

The Prime Minister is playing a very dangerous game when he seeks to set 'the people' against their elected representatives, and also against the judiciary when it seeks to uphold the rule of law and the sovereignty of parliament.  It also sets people against people, and it brooks no compromise let alone disagreement.  It sets those who disagree as 'the enemy of the people'.  It is the stuff of Stalin and Hitler, not of our parliamentary democracy.  

We are heading for a general election. The likely outcome is another hung parliament.  Political parties are jockeying for position. Already they are setting out their red lines on who they would or would not do a deal with.  Thus, the LibDems say they would never do a deal with Labour. They set themselves up as the 'pure' remain party with a likely commitment to revoke article 50 and stop Brexit.  Alas, this solves no problem.  The LibDems are unlikely to be in a position to enforce such legislation.  It is yet another divisive statement digging us further into our trenches.  No doubt, voters will be once again bewildered by the inability of MPs across the parties, unable to agree and unable to find a compromise. 


Comments

Popular posts from this blog

The lion and the wildebeest

Birds flock, fish school, bees swarm, but social being is more than simply sticking together.  Social groups enable specialisation and a sharing of abilities, and enhances ability, learning and creating new tricks. The more a group works together, the more effective they become as a team.  Chimpanzees learn from each other how to use stones to crack nuts, or sticks to get termites.  All around us we see cooperation and learning in nature.  Nature is inherently creative.  Pulling together becomes a rallying cry during a crisis.  We have heard it throughout the coronavirus pandemic.  "We are all in this together", a mantra that encourages people to adopt a common strategy. In an era of 'self-interest' and 'survival of the fittest,'  and 'selfish gene', we lose sight of the obvious conclusion from the evidence all around us.   Sticking together is more often the better approach.  This is valid for the lion as it is also for the wildebeest.   We don't

No evidence for vaccine link with autism

Public health bodies are worried that an alarming drop in childhood vaccinations is leading to a resurgence of diseases in childhood that we had all but eradicated.  Misinformation and scare stories about the harmful effects of vaccines abound on the internet and in social media.  Where they are based on 'science', it is highly selective, and often reliance is placed on falsehoods.  Conspiracy theories also abound - cover-ups, deception, lies. As a result, too many parents are shunning vaccinations for their children.  So, what does the published, peer-reviewed literature tell us about vaccincations? Are they safe and effective, or are there long term harmful effects?  A new report now provides some of the answers. New evidence published in the Cochrane Library today finds MMR, MMRV, and MMR+V vaccines are effective and that they are not associated with increased risk of autism. Measles, mumps, rubella, and varicella (also known as chickenpox) are infectious diseases cau

Therapeutic animal stress

Interacting with animals is known to be therapeutic,  particularly in reducing stress.  But do we consider sufficiently the effects this may have on the animals involved?   We might assume that because it is calming for us, then it must be so for the therapeutic animals, but is this so?  New research suggests that it isn't always without stress for the animals involved.  Positive human-animal interaction relates to changes in physiological variables both in humans and other animals, including a reduction of subjective psychological stress (fear, anxiety) and an increase of oxytocin levels in the brain.  It also reduces the 'stress' hormone, cortisol. Indeed, these biological responses have measurable clinical benefits.  Oxytocin has long been implicated in maternal bonding, sexual behaviour and social affiliation behaviours and in promoting a sense of well-being .  So far, so good.  We humans often turn to animals for stress relief, companionship, and even therapy.  We kno