A new-look government?

Gordon Brown is preparing a new government, for when he officially gets the top job in a few days time. And we hear he’s discussed offering government jobs to members of the libdems, but they’ve turned him down. Noone seems quite sure who suffers or benefits from this.

Looking up from an unedifying narrow view of the parties, what would be good for the country? Here the answer looks much clearer: if Brown can move away from the traditional notion of a government entirely from within one party, we stand to benefit. But he needs to be transparent and honest about it: giving power to “special advisors” through the back door has a bad press that’s not about to go away (even if it’s really just a modern variant of “Sir Humphrey” of the 1980s and earlier).

If Brown can appoint ministers from outside his own party, I for one will be well pleased. They won’t be libdems (at least in the short term), but they could still be Tories, other parties, or (probably best) no party. As is indeed fairly widespread practice in many other countries. Not only will he move away from traditional tribalism; he’ll also set a good precedent for future governments. It’s a natural followup to the ending of the class war that gave rise to the original Labour party.

And it’s a precedent I strongly suspect David Cameron will be happy to follow, if and when he gets the top job.

Next: do away with this absurd system where so much power vests in any one person. Regardless of who it is, or what party they lead. That includes leaders of opposition parties, too.

Posted on June 23, 2007, in politics, uk. Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. In a way, what Brown has suggested is the same kind of result that the system of Proportional Representation would provide – a government of “all the powers” if not all the talents. At least that way the voting electorate do not feel disenfranchised, and more than 50% of voters actually have their views represented.

    The paradox of the “First Past the Post” electoral system is that rather than creating a true democracy where the majority rules, it ensures that a minority party is always elected. If you doubt this, when was the last time the winning party in a General Election got 50% of the votes?

    Not only that, but the party that gains power always spends huge chunks of time undoing what their predecessors created, so we end up with a vicious cycle of “Create – Destroy” ad infinitum. This results in the real power vesting with the Civil Service, not the Politicians, and certainly not with the voters.

    It is interesting to note that Europe’s richest country (on an income per head of population basis) uses the Proportional Representation system of voting, combined with bi-monthly National Referenda on the main issues of the day, together with not allowing politicians to serve more than 13 weeks per year in Parliament – they’ll only pass more laws if you let them! The country I am talking about? Switzerland.

  2. What strikes me is that there could even be a conspiracy going on. Both Labour and Tories would stand to gain if they can marginalise the libdems. And if Brown now forms a government including a Tory or two, we get an implied message “look, we can do grown-up politics now”.

  3. I’m not sure the Tories would ever sign up to a coalition government, or shared minister arrangement: in every hung Parliament in peacetime I can remember they have always turned this option down. They are the party that would suffer most from Proportional Representation, and don’t want to look remotely like as though they may accept it.

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