The principles that rule this blog

Principles that will govern my thoughts as I express them here (from my opening statement):

  • Freedom of the individual should be as total as possible, limited only by the fact that nobody should be free to cause physical injury to another, or to deprive another person of his freedoms.
  • Government is necessary primarily to provide those services that private enterprise won't, or won't at a price that people can afford.
  • No person has a right to have his own beliefs on religious, moral, political, or other controversial issues imposed on others who do not share those beliefs.

I believe that Abraham Lincoln expressed it very well:

“The legitimate object of government is to do for a community of people whatever they need to have done, but cannot do, at all, or cannot
so well do, for themselves — in their separate, individual capacities.”

Comments will be invited, and I will attempt to reply to any comments that are offered in a serious and non-abusive manner. However, I will not tolerate abusive or profane language (my reasoning is that this is my blog, and so I can control it; I wouldn't interfere with your using such language on your own!)

If anyone finds an opinion that I express to be contrary to my principles, they are welcome to point this out. I hope that I can make a rational case for my comments. Because, in fact, one label I'll happily accept is rationalist.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

The new British Government

Britain now has a Prime Minister: David Cameron. It took a while, though less time, of course, than it took in 2000 for us to verify the election of a President. But I still think we do things better.

At least Nicholas Clegg, the leader of Britain’s Liberal Democrats, did the honorable thing. He had said that if one party got both a majority of seats and a majority of votes, it had the right to try to form a Government. And the party that did, of course, was Cameron’s Conservative Party, So Clegg was right to accept Cameron’s offer of a coalition. But Cameron was forced to accept the idea of a coalition with the Liberal Democrats, though his membership mostly opposes coalition-building with that party. Yet, a coalition is the only way the Conservatives could have a stable government, with majority support in the House of Commons.

But the British Liberal Democrats, it appears, are rather further to the left than the German Free Democratic Party (FDP), so there is more political distance between them and the Conservatives than between Germany’s FDP and Christian Democratic Union (CDU). So while CDU-FDP coalitions have been common in Germany, this will be a difficult coalition to maintain. I suspect there will be another election soon.

And this is one more thing I do not like about the British system. Unlike ours, it depends on a monolithic uniformity of each party’s votes in the House of Commons. While Susan Collins and Richard Shelby both call themselves Republicans (and Bart Stupak and Nancy Pelosi both call themselves Democrats), they are free to vote their conscience and if they differ, no new elections are necessary, in the British system if the Conservative leadership decides the party’s members of Commons should vote a certain way, they all do, whatever the members may think. (I would hate to be an MP in Britain.) And if the Conservative and Liberal Democratic leadership have a falling-out, there will need to be a new British election.

Nobody knows how long this coalition will last. Coalitions, outside of the two World Wars, have never existed in Britain. And this is another problem with the British system. You have to expect that an election could be called at any time. So there is a permanent campaign in Britain. Each of the parties will be trying to position itself for the next election.


Tom Ellis said...

Nice to hear your point of view from across the pond. Have you ever lived in Britain yourself?

Opinionator said...

No, I've never lived there. I've made only one trip, many years ago (so many years ago that they were still using the old currency with 240 pence to the pound!)

But I do have a Britich correspondent, and I've had others in the past. And I've long been interested in the way other political systems work. I've been particularly interested in the British system, because despite the fact that the USA got started as a British colony (or 13 colonies), we've gone a totally different way in the way our political system is organized. It would be hard to find two democracies whose systems are as different as yours and ours, and yet both Americans and Britons seem to be proud of our respective systems!