The Chinese, being an ancient, intelligent and noble race, never actually came up with the “Chinese Curse”. It’s one of those things that Edwardian gentlemen of the British Empire invented. It was popularised by Robert F. Kennedy in his famous speech about apartheid to Cape Town students in 1966.
I digress. You really should stop me doing that. I’m easily distracted by historical details and shiny things. That curse is a very simple, very innocuous-sounding, phrase. May you live in interesting times. And that we most certainly do. We have the first new Conservative (ok mainly Conservative) administration in almost 20 years. The new cabinet is almost entirely public school educated, white and male. 23 out of 30 of them are millionaires. And of course, it’s made up of two parties. So that’s all different for a start.
A few days ago, as the Lib Dems held talks with the Labour party, you will have seen various Conservative high flyers screeching about a Lab-Lib coalition creating an unelected Prime Minister. This really, really annoyed me. Those same Tories know fine well that there’s no such thing as an elected PM, let alone an unelected one. We live in a Parliamentary Democracy. We elect our local representative to that Parliament. It’s up to that Parliament to decide who will be the Prime Minister. To go on television misleading people in that way is just wrong. That their hosts let them get away with this is just another signal of low standards in some journalists.
Anyway, I digress again. You really must be firmer with me. These people who a week ago were shouting about unelected PMs. Who were painting themselves as the guardians of Parliamentary democracy. These same people today let it be known that one of their first acts in Government will be a change in law to make sure that 55% of MPs will be needed to pass a vote for a dissolution of Parliament. That means, essentially, that they are removing the right to remove a Government. Up to now, if a Government lost a vote of no confidence, the Prime Minister would have to ask the Queen to dissolve Parliament. Now, David Cameron will be able to stay in Power and form a new coalition or run a minority Government despite having lost the confidence of Parliament. That’s thoroughly undemocratic. And the most amazing thing about it is that the Liberal Democrats are supporting this move. This is just the start of the Tory gerrymandering of Parliament to secure their own position. This is all about party interest and not national interest no matter what is said. The first full day of Tory government and we have Parliamentary democracy reduced, childrens’ services broken up, NHS and Olympics cuts ruled probable, and motorists defended to the hilt. Interesting times, indeed.