An election holds up a mirror to society, revealing the relationship between the people and the politicians.
The 2015 election in Britain revealed widespread distrust of a political class seen as remote and out of touch by those left behind, by voters who feel disfranchised and powerless to control their own lives. It showed that disquieting trends on the Continent are not without some resonance in Britain.
Many voters believed that the Conservative prime minister, David Cameron, and his Labour Party challenger, Ed Miliband, were all too similar in their determination to keep Britain in the European Union, their inability to curb immigration, and in their support for gay marriage.… Seguir leyendo »
It has been said that the British constitution is not worth the paper it is not written on. But then, as every American knows, the British don’t have one.
Nevertheless, constitutional issues keep pushing themselves to the fore — the European Union, the role and composition of the House of Lords, and, most recently, the referendum on independence in Scotland, which threatened to break up the country.
In 1998, Britain’s Parliament created devolved bodies in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. The devolved bodies, unlike the House of Commons, were to be elected by proportional representation, with the hope that separatists would not be able to win on a minority of the vote.… Seguir leyendo »
The constitutional argument for a referendum on Europe is clear. We elect MPs to make decisions in parliament on our behalf, but not to transfer the powers of parliament to other bodies. That is why the transfer of legislative powers downwards, through devolution, requires a referendum. So also, since the European Union Act 2011, does the transfer of powers upwards to the EU.
But since we entered the EU in 1973, numerous powers have been transferred without our consent. And the referendum requirement poses a particular dilemma for a party of the left, which seeks to be both internationalist and sensitive to the demands of the people.… Seguir leyendo »
Seventeen years ago, on 13 July 1995, there began in the former Yugoslavia what Kofi Annan, former UN secretary general, has called the worst war crime in Europe since 1945 – the shooting by Serb forces of about 8,000 unarmed men and boys at Srebrenica. The victims' only crime was that they were Muslims.
"By seeking to eliminate a part of the Bosnian Muslims," Theodor Meron, the presiding judge of the appeals chamber of the international criminal tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, has declared, "the Bosnian Serb forces committed genocide. They stripped all the male Muslim prisoners, military and civilian, elderly and young, of their personal belongings and identification and deliberately and methodically killed them solely on the basis of their identity".… Seguir leyendo »
The best thing to be hoped for is that the Liberals Democrats will behave loyally and modestly in the national interest; loyally when the going gets tough over reducing the deficit, and modestly with regard to the lack of enthusiasm for PR to which their bad showing in the election attests.
Sadly that is Cloudcuckoo Land, because the modern Liberal party is often to the left of Labour and sees this as a once-in-a-generation chance to muscle in PR. Every Government since the war has always been re-elected once — except Ted Heath’s in 1974 — so a minority Tory ministry is the second best thing to hope for.… Seguir leyendo »