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 […]

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 […]

Fixing election terms and political stability

While fixed term elections are commonplace in some countries, such as the United States, one of the vagaries of Westminster systems is that it remains the prerogative of the Crown to dissolve parliament. A parliament may not last more than 5 years from the date it was first elected, but there is nothing that prevents an election from occurring any time before that date. And while it is the Crown’s prerogative to dissolve parliament and force a new election, we all know that in reality, the decision belongs to the Prime Minister. A longstanding criticism of this process is that countless PMs have called elections early, sometimes to take advantage of their party’s surge in the polls, or to exploit […]