I was democratically elected leader of our party for a new kind of politics by 60% of Labour members and supporters, and I will not betray them by resigning. Today’s vote by MPs has no constitutional legitimacy. We are a democratic party, with a clear constitution. Our people need Labour party members, trade unionists and MPs to unite behind my leadership at a critical time for our country.

Jeremy Corbyn after losing confidence vote

Leadership Selection – A Cautionary Tale

When Conservative MP Michael Chong brought forward his Reform Act, which, before it was diluted to the point of irrelevance, would have codified in the Elections Canada Act how parties could trigger leadership reviews by giving party caucuses the right to set such an event in motion, many pundits were appalled by the notion that the caucus alone could do such a thing. It was “undemocratic” — the leader was elected by the party membership at large — how dare a handful of MPs go against the will of the membership! Other political observers, myself included, argued that Chong’s bill didn’t go far enough. How party leaders in Canada (both at the federal and provincial level) are selected may well […]

UK Houses of Parliament

On Brexit and parliamentary power plays

Following the victory of the “Leave” side in the referendum on the UK’s status in the EU, Prime Minister David Cameron announced that he would resign as PM and leader of the Tory party in October — to give the party time to choose a new leader in time for their October Party Conference. For Canadians, if that seems like a really fast time frame in which to have a leadership change, they do party leadership properly — it’s largely in the hands of the party caucus. The party’s 1922 committee, a committee of all backbench Conservative MPs that meets weekly when the Commons is sitting,  will oversee the contest, most likely using the same rules used in the 2005 leadership […]

I know the Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition was far from perfect (as is the case for all governments), but for this politically despondent Canadian, it was inspiring. In fact, it was so inspiring, I started this blog. The new UK Parliament sat for the first time on 18 May to elect the Speaker. I started this blog that day and my first post appeared on May 21 2010.

Five years ago this month

Around this time five years ago, I was quite despondent about the state of politics here in Canada. I was finding it increasingly difficult to pay any attention to the news, simply because it would only further anger and frustrate me. Part my job requires that I follow parliamentary events in other jurisdictions, and so I was paying  nominal attention to the 2010 UK election campaign. I wasn’t on Twitter at the time, so relied on UK online media. My interest grew as talk of a “hung parliament” — words never heard here in Canada —  came to dominate. I was startled by the number of studies and opinion pieces in the press by Constitutional and political experts explaining government […]

The constitutional rule is that the politician who can command the confidence of the House of Commons becomes PM. This could be the leader of the second largest party, if he can secure sufficient support from third and minor parties.

The Constitution Unit

Government Formation Revisited

I’ve written a number of posts exploring the issue of government formation in a hung parliament, but in the lead-up to the May 7 2015 UK General Election, a number of helpful guides and videos on the issue have appeared. While they specifically address the current situation in the UK, the basic principles apply here in Canada as well (except for the conditions imposed by the UK’s Fixed-term Parliaments Act). Preparing for another hung Parliament: 9 key questions answered : The media and voters may assume that 2015 will then see a replay of 2010, with the swift formation of another coalition government. Not necessarily so, as explained by the former director of UCL’s Constitution Unit, Prof Robert Hazell in […]


The May 2015 UK General Election

The next general election in the UK will be held on May 7 2015. This blog cannot engage in a discussion of the policies of political parties, however, it can refer you to other sites that can do that and more. This list will be updated as more information becomes available. Party Manifesto Comparisons The parties haven’t released their manifestos yet, so expect updates in this section down the road. FiveThirtyEightPolitics looks at where the four main parties (Labour, Conservative, SNP and Lib Dems) stand on three key issues: immigration, the economy and the NHS based on statements made in recent weeks. This House of Commons Library research note looks at the parties’ (Conservatives, Labour, Liberal Democrats, UKIP and Green […]

To Canadian eyes, Australian leadership challenges may certainly appear rather odd and probably give the impression that Australian politics are highly unstable.

On caucus-driven leadership selection and removal

Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott survived a leadership spill attempt last week, although when 40% of your caucus no longer has confidence in you, I’m not sure you can consider that much of a successful outcome. There was great interest in the outcome of the vote on Twitter, and the Australian Broadcasting Corporation was lovely and removed their region-blocking so that people outside of Australia could follow their news coverage live online. There have been a number of leadership spill votes in recent years in Australia — some of them successful. When Labor was in power, Julia Gillard successfully ousted Prime Minister Kevin Rudd before the 2010 election. Rudd then tried to return the favour (unsuccessfully) in 2012. Gillard faced […]