Thursday, 7 July 2022

Cracks in the Constitution

 As I write (7am on Thursday 7th July) the morning news says that Mr Johnson is still in 10, Downing Street clinging to the premiership in spite of the fact that that key figures in his cabinet have told him that he should resign " for the good of the party and nation" and 46 (and counting ) ministers have resigned from his government.  (That still leaves around 100 in it.)

Johnson claims, with some justification, that he led the party at the last general election, won a stonikng majority of over 80, and therefore is entitled to  remain in office for five years, or until he deicides to call another election.

In other words, Johnson is claiming that the UK has a presidential system, he is "in charge" come what may, "The British People" (he loves claiming to speak for  "the British people, and does so at nearly every Question Time) have chosen him to "get things done" and the Tory MPs who clambered into their seats on his coat tails should jolly well back him.

And it is true that, in the 60+ years I have been studying British politics, our system has become more and more presidential, in spite of bleats of protest from constitutional purists.

However, the truth is that Mr Johnson was not elected by "the British people," but by      25 351 voters in his constituency of Uxbridge and South Ruislip.  To his "credit" he is one of the minority of MPs who actually received more than 50% of the vote: 53% in fact.  But 22 816 voted for other candidates, and over 22 000 who could have didn't bother to vote for him or anyone else.

Hardly enough to make him Emperor of England, still less World King.

I expect that, very soon, maybe not today and maybe not even this month, the normal convention of the constitution kick in.

 The prime minister is not elected by "the people" but appointed by the monarch, who doesn't have much choice.  She or he must appoint whoever commands a majority in the House of Commons.  Clearly Mr Johnson no longer does.  It will be interesting to see which former sycophant  the Tory MPs and then the  party members choose for her/him (should that be Her/Him?) to appoint.

 We "progressive alternatives" are torn in two ways.  Do we want a less-incompetent government to be appointed as quickly and efficiently as possible, or do we prefer to sit back and enjoy watching  the  Tories tear themselves even further apart?


  1. We should allow the Tories to tear themselves apart and hope they appoint a non-entity as leader. Our role is to keep pointing out that the whole Tory Party is tainted with lies, corruption, cronyism etc, not just the soon to be ex PM.

  2. I suspect you and I will sail through the coming recession quite comfortably. Not so about a fifth of our population genuinely having to choose between heating and eating etc. It would be nice to think someone (Tugendaught? - I'm sure that's not how it is spelled, but you know the one I mean) might emerge with the competence and will to do something about it.