Posts Tagged ‘Gordon Brown’
May 11th, 2010 at 12:15 am
Britain Proves the Wisdom of the American Revolution
Posted by Print

If you need proof of the wisdom of the Founding Fathers, there’s no better contrast than a comparison of the current political climates in the U.S. and our mother country, the United Kingdom.

In a wonderful essay entitled “Thunder on the Mountain”, RealClearPolitics political savant Jay Cost writes today:

D.C. might shine brilliantly to the eyes of some, but it is still just reflected light. For all their posturing, the establishment still works at the pleasure of the people. It just so happens that the people usually choose to renew their tenure.

Yet this year, it looks like the people are set to deliver a historic rebuke to the establishment. The portents of the coming reprimand are all around us.

This follows on an earlier passage where Cost observes:

… the people do indeed rule. While their power is limited, it is nevertheless unconditional where it exists. Barack Obama and Nancy Pelosi need the assent of the people of the United States to govern this country. But the people don’t need any such thing. In the limited sphere where they rule, they are supreme.

Cost’s point is well-taken. During their terms in office, America’s elected officials are only limited by whatever constitutional strictures the judiciary sees fit to apply. But come election day, the gloves are off. Americans get the politicians they vote for.

Compare that to Great Britain, where today’s dominant story was the resignation of Prime Minister Gordon Brown as leader of the Labour Party. With Brown stepping down, it looks as if Labour and the Liberal Democrats may be forming a left-wing government; this despite the fact that the Conservative Party came within hailing distance of an outright majority. The UK may be about to get saddled with a government made up of its second and third choices, with the first place caucus left out in the cold.

This is the poverty of the parliamentary system, which makes the executive branch a function of legislative majorities. In addition to ignoring America’s important emphasis on checks and balances, it can also invite this sort of legerdemain aimed at usurping the will of the people.

Count your blessings, America — one of which was ending up on this side of the Atlantic.

March 31st, 2010 at 2:16 pm
Getting to Know David Cameron’s Inner Edmund Burke

In the next six weeks Britain will go the polls and most likely pry Gordon Brown’s fingers off the levers of power.  The Economist thinks his successor will be the Tory leader, David Cameron.  The magazine offers a closer look at the Conservative Party’s answer to Tony Blair.  Though Cameron takes many positions that suggest a taste for government intervention, he also seems to possess a subtle debt to Edmund Burke, the philosopher-politician who argued for tradition, order, and the importance of the family.

British society, so his critique goes, is broken. The cause is the erosion of responsibility (his favourite word) by a hyperactive state. He is at his most animated when justifying his (arguably overstated) social pessimism, pointing to “our records against the rest of Europe on things like teenage pregnancy and drug abuse, alcohol, family worklessness, educational problems”. The analysis is open to criticism: the societies he sees as unbroken, including many in continental Europe, spend more on welfare than he would want to or can afford to.

The cure, he says, is giving power away, strengthening local government and empowering people directly by, for example, letting them set up their own schools. He is undogmatic about the precise size of the state, deploring instead its over-centralisation; he prefers a big society to a big state. It remains to be seen whether that will bring relief to the overburdened public finances.

If he becomes the next British Prime Minister, David Cameron could do much to counter President Barack Obama’s juvenile treatment of America’s most important European ally.  If he expands his cultural critique into a governing philosophy that returns power to citizens, he’ll outshine The One on style and substance.