Yes Deputy Prime Minister

The position of deputy prime minister in Westminster parliamentary systems varies from one jurisdiction to another. For example, in both Australia and New Zealand, the position has become an official ministerial portfolio, since 1949 in New Zealand and since 1968 in Australia. In Australia, the duties of the Deputy Prime Minister are to act on behalf of the Prime Minister in his or her absence overseas or on leave. The Deputy Prime Minister has always been a member of the Cabinet, and has always held at least one substantive portfolio. It would be possible for a minister to hold only the portfolio of Deputy Prime Minister, but this has never happened. If the Prime Minister were to die, become incapacitated […]

Yes Prime Minister

In Westminster parliamentary systems, the prime minister is the presiding and actual head of the government and head of the executive branch. In such systems, the head of state or the head of state’s official representative (i.e. the monarch, president, or governor-general), although officially the head of the executive branch, in fact holds a ceremonial position. What is particularly interesting, to me at least, is that in most, if not all of the countries using the Westminster system, the constitutions of those country make no mention of the position, power and status of prime ministers. This is certainly the case in the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand and Canada (although in the Constitution Act, 1982, a passing reference to a […]

Concerning Security

We are constantly reminded that “the world has changed” since the terrorists attacks on the US in 2001. Increased security is the norm – at airports, around government officials, at large international events such as the Olympics. Which is why this picture may strike you as either a breath of fresh air or incredibly foolhardy: What is that? That is Prime Minister David Cameron and Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg walking from Downing Street to the House of Commons for the Queen’s Speech on 25 May. Cameron is causing great consternation in the UK because of his insistence on walking from his home/office at 10 Downing Street to the House of Commons. He has also instructed ministers to cut down […]

The Salisbury Convention

One interesting thing I’ve recently learned about thanks to my new-found fascination with UK politics, is the Salisbury-Addison Convention. Since Labour’s landslide in 1945, the House of Lords has not opposed, on second reading, any bill that can claim authority from the winning party’s manifesto. For the uninitiated, an election manifesto is what we in Canada call an election platform. The Salisbury-Addison Convention is a practice adopted by the House of Lords which has evolved so that: In the House of Lords: A manifesto Bill is accorded a Second Reading; A manifesto Bill is not subject to “wrecking amendments” which change the Government’s manifesto intention as proposed in the Bill; and A manifesto Bill is passed and sent (or returned) […]

Political Realignment

This post comes with a huge caveat: I am not an expert on UK politics. I do have a general sense of the parties, but I don’t follow goings-on in the United Kingdom very closely. Or rather, I haven’t until this most recent election. Consequently, some of what I say here may be very simplistic – if not simply wrong – and if anyone who is better versed in UK politics wishes to correct some aspect of this post, I would welcome that. I have been reading, repeatedly, in recent columns and op-ed pieces in the UK papers, that with this coalition of the Conservative and Liberal Democratic parties, we may be witnessing something greater than a pragmatic arrangement between […]

No one voted for this

One of the most common complaints about the coalition government in the UK, going by online comments left on various news articles and op-ed pieces, is that “no one voted for this” – this being the Liberal Conservative coalition and its recently released platform. There is some truth to that statement – indeed, no one did vote for a coalition government. However, no one voted for any sort of government. In a parliamentary system, people vote to elect someone to represent them in the legislative body. The elected members of that body then decide what form the government will take. That is the reality of our system; unfortunately, too many forget that, or don’t understand that. They go to the […]