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 Primacy of Parliament

Chris Bryant (Rhondda) (Lab): On a point of order, Mr Speaker.You said earlier that for the sake of accuracy you had managed to obtain a copy of the Queen’s Speech. You need not have done any such thing, as you might just as well have bought a copy of The Sunday Telegraph. Will you confirm that this is the first time that a draft of the Queen’s Speech has ever been leaked to a national newspaper? Will you personally conduct an investigation to find out whether it was leaked from No. 10 Downing street and whether any money changed hands in connection with it? You rightly used to excoriate Labour Ministers if ever we made announcements before making them to […]

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) […]

My government will…

The new Parliament in the UK opened today with Her Majesty’s Most Gracious Speech, also known as the Gracious Address or, less formally, as the Queen’s Speech. This is a parliamentary procedure common to all Commonwealth countries which still have the Queen as head of state, however it carries different names in different jurisdictions. For example, in Canada and its provinces, the speech is called the Speech from the Throne, or Throne Speech, and is usually read by the Governor General at the federal level and by the Lieutenant-Governor in the provinces. In Australia, it is simply called the “Opening Speech”, but is read by the Governor General (or Governor at the state level). In both the UK and Canada […]

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 […]