The Great Debate UK
Almost alone on the democratic world, we British have no written constitution protecting our basic civil and political rights. We have no constitutional charter defining the scope of the powers of the legislative, executive and judicial branches of government or the relationship of these branches with the European Union (EU). Parliament struggles to assert its power while the government uses its ancient monarchical authority — that is the prerogative power vested in the Queen — to exercise its executive powers.
There is now widespread discontent with our system of government, and a massive loss of confidence in politics and politicians.
The early days of the “New Labour” government were times of promising reform. Major changes such as devolution for Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales, removal of most hereditary peers from the House of Lords, abolishing the role of Lord Chancellor and creation of a Supreme Court were accompanied by measures directly empowering individuals, in particular the Human Rights Act and Freedom of Information Act.
- Rupert Darwall is a guest columnist. The views expressed are his own. A London-based strategist, he is author of Reluctant Managers, a study of Whitehall performance (KPMG, 2006) –
If April is the cruellest month, then July can be awful for people using Heathrow. Business travel is still humming and the holiday season is getting into full swing.
In the midst of an economic crisis, we have a crisis of trust in politicians. But it is not through their lack of activity. Over the last ten years, layers of government have multiplied, more regulatory bodies have been put in place, thousands of new laws have been passed and greater powers of surveillance have been accorded to the State.
Sir Win Bischoff appears to relish a challenge. His brief spell as chairman of Citigroup was spent resisting regulators who wanted to break up the bank. If the veteran banker takes over as chairman of Lloyds Banking Group, his first fight will be with competition authorities in Brussels. This is one battle where it would be better if Sir Win did not live up to his name.
The crisis at Northern Rock marked the beginning of Britain’s slide into large-scale state ownership of the banking system. Returning the mortgage lender to the private sector would be a sign that normal service is being resumed. But rumours that the British government is poised to sell Northern Rock, are premature. Suggestions the government could do so at a profit are even more far-fetched.
Prime Minister Gordon Brown is apparently keen to offload the Rock, ideally “at a substantial profit” before the general election, which must be held before next summer. According to the Times, the prime minister “wants desperately to avoid a Conservative government taking the credit”.
Reports in the media about job losses are commonplace these days, with young people’s struggle to find work dominating coverage. Yet at the other end of the age spectrum, the lives and future prospects of older workers have been set in turmoil by the recession.
- Suren Surendiran is the spokesman for the British Tamils Forum. The opinions expressed are his own. -
The war against Tamils has ended, if we believe the statements coming from Sri Lankan state news media and the carefully orchestrated propaganda campaign.
Whatever reservations there might be over the way the leaked information was obtained, the publication of hitherto secret details about the endemic abuse of MPs’ expenses was without doubt in the public interest.
Belgians may like a tasty cheval-burger with their frites, but they ought to desist from flogging a dead one. The European Commission has thrown out an attempt to have the sale of Fortis Bank in Belgium to BNP Paribas cancelled, but the rebels are now threatening to take their case to the European Court of Justice.
Not exactly shock and awe as the MPC keeps base rates on hold at 0.5 percent while the most recent financial surveys have been unanimous in expecting a no change decision for some time now. It was always going to be an MPC meeting to discuss whether or not to persevere with quantitative easing. The difficulty for the MPC is that it is too early to judge the effectiveness of the quantitative easing. Clearly the Bank of England would prefer to wait at least until it publishes new quarterly growth and inflation forecasts to explain how it wishes to proceed.