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1  Other Elections - Analysis and Discussion / International Elections / Re: Labour Party (UK) Leadership Election, 2016 on: July 26, 2016, 11:14:35 am
Come on y'all, don't be so pessimistic. We haven't got a clue what the climate will be around 2020 (except it'll be hotter), the Tories might very well sink their own ship into the ground on Brexit or anything else, Corbyn might get a little more... palatable to the general public, so stop acting like you gobble up everything the media feeds you. I'm not saying Corbyn is the best you could hope for, it seems he's not, but it also seems the membership is loyalist, and surely that is something of a certain value, isn't it ? Otherwise, let me point you to the nearest Brecht analogy : "The membership has forfeited the confidence of the Party's elite and can win it back only by redoubled efforts. Would it not be easier in that case for the Party's elite to dissolve the membership and elect another?"

Is not the dissolution of the membership and the election of another, precisely what the Parliamentary Labour Party will do when they split the party?
2  Other Elections - Analysis and Discussion / International Elections / Re: Australian Federal Election- July 2, 2016 on: July 24, 2016, 06:17:31 am
Now? It's been conservative-leaning for years. That's what population decline does to you.

How does that explain Lingiari (the seat covering almost all of the area of the Northern Territory)? It's far and away the largest seat by area held by the ALP (and since its creation in 2001). I've read that Alice Springs is more cosmopolitan than one might generally think. There's almost certainly a significant Aboriginal population in the electorate, but do they actually vote and if so, do they vote ALP (to be honest, I'm not familiar with any indigenous population in a first world developed country not voting for the centre-left party)?

In a somewhat related topic, I've wondered why the Northern Territory isn't a state. Is it because they would get more seats in the Senate as a state (quite a lot more if all states would still be considered equal)?

Only the six original states have a constitutional guarantee of equal representation in the Senate. If the Northern Territory became a state it would only have the number of Senators allowed by Parliament. The Northern Territory article in Wikipedia explains the problem.

Quote
For several years there has been agitation for full statehood. A referendum was held on the issue in 1998, which resulted in a 'no' vote. This was a shock to both the Northern Territory and Commonwealth governments, for opinion polls showed most Territorians supported statehood. However, under the Australian Constitution, the Federal Government may set the terms of entry to full statehood. The Northern Territory was offered three Senators, rather than the twelve guaranteed to original states. (Because of the difference in populations, equal numbers of Senate seats would mean a Territorian's vote for a Senator would have been worth more than 30 votes in New South Wales or Victoria.) Alongside what was cited as an arrogant approach adopted by then Chief Minister Shane Stone, it is believed that most Territorians, regardless of their general views on statehood, were reluctant to adopt the particular offer that was made.[13]
3  Other Elections - Analysis and Discussion / International Elections / Re: Labour Party (UK) Leadership Election, 2016 on: July 18, 2016, 06:24:44 pm
The largest split in the history of the Labour Party is probably now inevitable. The election of a leader, other than Corbyn, was the only scenario which might have avoided the breakup.

It seems likely that a majority, quite possibly a large majority of the MPs will form a new party in opposition to a Corbyn led official party. If they become the official opposition in Parliament and can convince most centre-left voters that they are the real heirs of the traditional Labour Party, then they have a chance at becoming a party of government by the second half of the 2020s. If not the first past the post system will shred them to oblivion or minor party status.
4  Other Elections - Analysis and Discussion / International Elections / Re: Potential UK General Election Late 2016 / Early 2017 on: July 17, 2016, 06:02:45 pm
I have looked at the Canadian law about fixed term elections. It inserts an explicit provision in the Canada Elections Act regarding the power of the Governor General to dissolve Parliament.

Quote
56.1 (1) Nothing in this section affects the powers of the Governor General, including the power to dissolve Parliament at the Governor General’s discretion.

Marginal note:Election dates

There is nothing remotely comparable to the Canadian provision in the UK legislation.

I believe that language was inserted because it was so obvious. Under our constitutional monarchy there is no way short of a constitutional amendment for parliament to pass a law that affects the reserve powers of the crown. Of course one thing that is different in the UK is the fact that there is no written constitution in the first place.

What if Theresa May simply used her majority to repeal the Fixed Term Elections act and THEN asked the queen for a dissolution?


Repeal and then dissolve would work. However the Conservatives do not have a majority in the House of Lords, so repealing the 2011 legislation might take time. If the House of Lords reject the bill, it would have to be passed again in the next session, so that the Parliament Act can be used to override the Lords.

5  Other Elections - Analysis and Discussion / International Elections / Re: Potential UK General Election Late 2016 / Early 2017 on: July 17, 2016, 01:49:51 pm
I have looked at the Canadian law about fixed term elections. It inserts an explicit provision in the Canada Elections Act regarding the power of the Governor General to dissolve Parliament.

Quote
56.1 (1) Nothing in this section affects the powers of the Governor General, including the power to dissolve Parliament at the Governor General’s discretion.

Marginal note:Election dates

There is nothing remotely comparable to the Canadian provision in the UK legislation.
6  Other Elections - Analysis and Discussion / International Elections / Re: Potential UK General Election Late 2016 / Early 2017 on: July 17, 2016, 01:15:09 pm
Again, pardon me for being persistent but doesn't the Queen always have to follow the advice of her PM? What if May simply goes to the Queen and says "I request that your majesty dissolve parliament"?

We went through this in Canada. In 2006 the Harper Conservatives passed the "fixed elections act" stating that elections were to be every four years unless parliament voted no confidence in a minority government. In August 2008 Harper decided that he wanted to call a snap early election to try to get a majority. He simply went to the Governor General and requested a dissolution and he got it! The courts subsequently ruled that the Fixed Term law was only symbolic and that nothing could stand in the way of a PM being the only person who could give advice to the crown. Why would it be any different in the UK? The crown is the crown!

The UK Act does not explicitly abolish any extant prerogative powers of the Crown to dissolve Parliament and call a general election. It does impose a comprehensive scheme of when a general election can take place and deletes the previous statute law about the topic.

There may be room for legal argument, but I would interpret the present UK law as excluding a dissolution outside its terms.
7  Other Elections - Analysis and Discussion / International Elections / Re: Potential UK General Election Late 2016 / Early 2017 on: July 16, 2016, 11:11:34 am
Yvette Cooper MP (Lab, Normanton) has suggested on Twitter that there will be an early election that will either be called on September 21st for October 20th as part of a dastardly scheme by the Conservatives to ruin their big day of announcing the winner of the Labour leadership election.
Exactly how does the government get around the Fixed-term Parliaments Act in just over 2 months, with Parliament in recess for most of it?

The simple rule of thumb is 429 MP's have to vote for an early election, or there is a vote of no confidence in the existing government and a vote of no confidence in the next government. The first is impossible (as it means Labour voting for an early election) the second is more than possible. May triggers a no confidence motion and whips her MP's to abstain, stating that she wishes to have a mandate (similar to Schroder and Merkel a few years back) and so the motion is carried and the government resigns, Corbyn is then asked to form a government and 14 days later presents it to the House, the Conservatives (who have the majority) vote against it and we have a general election.

I accept the suggested approach is possible. I do not see it can be arranged within the timescale Yvonne Cooper was fearing. If Mrs May wanted to trigger an election in the next few months, she would have had to already start the process. Parliament is due to go into a recess after next Thursday.
8  Other Elections - Analysis and Discussion / International Elections / Re: Potential UK General Election Late 2016 / Early 2017 on: July 15, 2016, 10:30:40 am
Yvette Cooper MP (Lab, Normanton) has suggested on Twitter that there will be an early election that will either be called on September 21st for October 20th as part of a dastardly scheme by the Conservatives to ruin their big day of announcing the winner of the Labour leadership election.
Exactly how does the government get around the Fixed-term Parliaments Act in just over 2 months, with Parliament in recess for most of it?
9  Other Elections - Analysis and Discussion / International Elections / Re: Conservative Party (UK) leadership election, 2016 on: July 12, 2016, 10:28:38 pm
Will May conduct a PM Qs before the summer break?

Looking at the Parliament web site, the House of Commons is currently due to adjourn on Thursday 21st July, so a PMQ session is due to take place on Wednesday 20th July.
10  Presidential Elections - Analysis and Discussion / Presidential Election Process / Re: If the President-Elect dies... on: July 08, 2016, 06:24:32 pm
I interpret the constitution as providing for a President-elect to become President at the start of the term, so long as he or she is still alive. The significance of taking the oath of office is that it is a precondition for exercising the powers and duties of the office.

It is possible for a President to still be alive at the start of the term, but so severely incapacitated that they cannot take the oath or decide to resign (an Ariel Sharon sort of situation). In such a case the Vice President would have to become acting President. The relevant part of the 25th Amendment, might require some awkward choreography on inauguration day.

Quote
Section 4. Whenever the Vice President and a majority of either the principal officers of the executive departments or of such other body as Congress may by law provide, transmit to the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives their written declaration that the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office, the Vice President shall immediately assume the powers and duties of the office as Acting President.


1. Vice President elect is sworn in as Vice President.
2. The Vice President and the members of the outgoing cabinet have a quick meeting to decide that the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office and sign the written declarations to hand to the President pro tempore and the Speaker.
3. The Vice President assumes the powers and duties of the office as Acting President.
11  Other Elections - Analysis and Discussion / International Elections / Re: Could the 3rd parties find success in the 2016 UK election? on: June 27, 2016, 11:32:32 pm
If there is a 2016 general election there will probably not be time for the party constellation to change. There does seem some risk of a split between a Corbyn led Labour Party and the bulk of the Parliamentary Labour Party, but that would only be a risk if Jeremy Corbyn was re-elected leader and continued to be opposed by a large majority of the PLP. However for this post I will assume Labour and Conservative remain the two major parties.

The 17 Northern Irish seats would continue to be held by local political parties. SNP would be likely to win 50 plus Scottish seats, with the three Unionist parties probably only winning one or two seats each (if any). Plaid Cymru would probably retain three seats or so in Wales.

That leaves the three largest non Labour and Conservative parties that contest more than one part of the UK.

The Liberal Democrats have eight seats now. With an election fought on the same boundaries and in somewhat more helpful political conditions than in 2015, they may retain the existing seats and hopefully pick up a few more. However it may be too soon to hope for any sort of large scale recovery.

The Green Party of England and Wales have one seat, in Brighton. They would probably retain it and have some chance of a second in Norwich. I do not see much chance of a large scale advance for the Greens.

The wildcard is UKIP. Douglas Carswell should retain his seat, but how many if any colleagues would be elected? Unless the Labour Party in northern England and the Midlands suffer the same sort of catastrophe as it did in Scotland, I do not see many UKIP MPs being elected.

Overall I suspect the non-Labour and Conservative members of a Parliament elected in 2016 would not be much different from those returned in 2015.

12  Other Elections - Analysis and Discussion / International Elections / Re: United Kingdom Referendum on European Union Membership on: June 23, 2016, 03:33:41 am
Question on the vote counting process.

From my understanding,
In a General Election, the ballots from each polling station are sent to a central 'Counting Room' in each of UK 650 ridings . Once all the ballots in the riding are counted. A riding official will announce the results, along side the candidates (and their huge ribbons). This process could take hours since it could take hours just to get  ballot boxes from the more remote locations.

Now, during the referendum ballot boxes will be sent to 382 local count venues.
Unlike in a general election where the numbers of voters is around the same. Local venues will very in size from 700,000 in Birmingham to 1,700 in the Isles of Scilly.

Why does UK count their ballots at these central counting station instead of the polling stations?

During elections in Canada they will count the ballots at the polling station, relay the results to Local Returning Officer, and the results are sent to central results system, where they are access to the media and the public. Most of the polling station take under 1 hour to count. You can get a projection in under an hour once the polls close in Central Canada. Unlike it the UK where you have to wait the following morning to actual results (not including the exit polls)

Tradition. This is the way we have counted votes since the introduction of the secret ballot in 1872. The parliamentary election practice was just adapted for referendums, when we started having them.
13  Other Elections - Analysis and Discussion / International Elections / Re: United Kingdom Referendum on European Union Membership on: June 15, 2016, 06:25:46 am
57 Tory MPs have said today they will vote against a George Osborne post-referendum budget.

As a budget is effectively a confidence vote, that pretty much guarantees the government will fall in the event of a no vote.

So a palace coup, or another general election? I'm not sure the general public would be able to cope with yet another election; but it would be completely unpredictable at this point.

I am not sure that the old conventions still apply.

In the pre-fixed term Parliament era the convention was that a government defeated on a major financial measure should either resign or advise a dissolution of Parliament. If it resigned then the conventional response was for the monarch to invite the Leader of the Opposition to form a government. In practice the new Prime Minister, being supported by a minority of the House of Commons, would then ask for a dissolution.

The convention was weakened in the UK in the 1970s, when the Callaghan minority government continued after losing votes on amendments to financial legislation.

Under the Fixed-term Parliaments Act 2011 the conventions appear to have been largely replaced by statutory provisions. The House of Commons briefing note about the Act summarises the early election provisions.

Quote
Early elections can be held only:

• if a motion for an early general election is agreed either by at least two-thirds of the whole House or without division or;

• if a motion of no confidence is passed and no alternative government is confirmed by the Commons within 14 days.

Quote
The Act sets out the form in which no confidence and confidence motions would be valid for
the purposes of an early general election or confirmation by the Commons of the formation of
a new government.

It seems to me that the Prime Minister, after defeat on a budget, could secure passage of a confidence motion and continue in office (if he thought it was worth being in office with mutinous backbenchers limiting what he could do).
14  Other Elections - Analysis and Discussion / International Elections / Re: United Kingdom Referendum on European Union Membership on: June 14, 2016, 01:42:25 pm
Corbyn was suppose to be couped 24 hours after winning IIRC

Corbyn is currently supposed to be even more popular with the party membership than when he was first elected so how is that meant to work?

Presumably if the coup succeeds the Labour right hope that neither Corbyn nor any other left winger will secure support from enough MPs (currently 35 being required) to be nominated in the next leadership election. No doubt a predominantly left wing membership will be happy to choose between unreconstructed Blairite candidates. What could possibly go wrong?
15  Presidential Elections - Analysis and Discussion / 2016 U.S. Presidential Election / Re: What if Hillary Clinton is elected but indicted BEFORE the inauguration on: June 07, 2016, 04:33:10 pm
I would have thought that a President-elect Trump would be at a far higher risk of facing criminal proceedings than a President-elect Clinton. However it is probably best to look at the issue in the abstract, rather than tying it to the alleged circumstances of the particular individuals who may be seeking election at the moment.

The first principle to bear in mind is that a President is not a monarch. The law applies to him or her as it does to every other citizen. This must be even more the case when the Presidential term has not yet started.

It follows that a President-elect facing charges should be treated, as closely as possible, in the same way that other citizens would be if facing the same charges. Presumably the Defendant would have the right to bail.

If the court proceedings are still pending when the presidential term starts, other factors may come into play. There may be a legal argument that criminal charges should go no further until the presidential term ends. I am not sure that the impeachment power of the House properly extends to alleged high crimes and misdemeanours carried out before the president took office, but that might have to be considered if the ordinary criminal courts are held not to be able to do anything during the presidential term.
16  General Discussion / Constitution and Law / Re: My Idea for electing Supreme Court justices on: May 29, 2016, 04:03:55 pm
How about preserving the appointment by the President and confirmation by the Senate model, but introduce a minimum age for appointment of 50 and a mandatory retirement age of 70. In practice most Supreme Court Justices would serve about 15 years and there would be more frequent opportunities to refresh the membership of the court.
17  General Discussion / Constitution and Law / Re: Life peerage (UK) on: May 29, 2016, 03:46:53 pm
The Crown does have a prerogative power to create life peers, who could be of any degree of the peerage. The last monarch to use this non statutory power was Queen Victoria. The House of Lords decided, in the Wensleydale peerage case in 1856, that a life peer had no right to sit in the House of Lords. Lord Wensleydale had to be given a regular hereditary peerage, so he could sit in the Lords.

That's funny, because later Baroness Ravensdale had to be created life peer, so she can sit in the Lords.

And thank you for detailed response.

The reason for Baroness Ravensdale's life peerage, under the Life Peerages Act 1958, was that female hereditary peers were not then entitled to a seat in the House of Lords. The 1958 Act permitted female members of the House of Lords for the first time. The Peerage Act 1963 let the female hereditary peers join the House.
18  General Politics / U.S. General Discussion / Re: If the U.S. switched to the same government system as the UK... on: May 29, 2016, 03:30:23 pm
A Parliamentary system in the US might not work as it does in the UK. It is possible for parliaments to work with no organised party system (British colonies like New Zealand in much of the 19th century) or a very fragmented or factionalised party system (the French 3rd and 4th Republics or the Italian Republic before the Christian Democrats imploded).
I suspect that without the glue of needing unity to win Presidential elections, cross regional party cohesion would break down in the US or at least that American politicians would not have the discipline to work together reliably. This would lead to weak and shifting ministries, with frequent changes of Prime Minister, as motions of no confidence would be common and there would be no expectation that a general election would produce a more stable parliamentary majority.
This would presumably lead eventually to a De Gaulle or Berlusconi type figure who would propose going back to the old Presidential/Congressional model where at least someone could be identified as being in charge.
19  General Politics / U.S. General Discussion / Re: Austin tries to rename elementary school: goes poorly on: May 26, 2016, 08:26:56 am
Yeah, Russell Lee is a very good choice, and he's actually an Austinite. Unlike Robert E. Lee who I doubt ever even set foot in Texas. It's bizarre that there was a school named after him in Austin in the first place.

The Wikipedia article on John Brown's raid on Harpers Ferry mentions a Texas connection for Robert E. Lee.

Quote
By 3:30 that afternoon, President James Buchanan ordered a detachment of U.S. Marines (the only government troops in the immediate area) to march on Harpers Ferry under the command of Brevet Colonel Robert E. Lee, lieutenant colonel of the 2nd U.S. Cavalry Regiment. Lee had been on leave from his regiment, stationed in Texas, when he was hastily recalled to lead the detachment and had to command it while wearing his civilian clothes.
20  General Discussion / Constitution and Law / Re: Life peerage (UK) on: May 20, 2016, 03:03:48 pm
The Crown does have a prerogative power to create life peers, who could be of any degree of the peerage. The last monarch to use this non statutory power was Queen Victoria. The House of Lords decided, in the Wensleydale peerage case in 1856, that a life peer had no right to sit in the House of Lords. Lord Wensleydale had to be given a regular hereditary peerage, so he could sit in the Lords.

Subsequent life peers have been created under statutory authority, so they did have seats in the House of Lords. These life peers have to be of the degree of a baron.
21  Other Elections - Analysis and Discussion / International Elections / Re: UK Parliamentary by-elections, 2015-2020 on: May 08, 2016, 03:48:38 am
Everyone be prepared to laugh at this by-election for the HoL with an electorate of ... Three people.
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-36084455

See how fast democracy has changed the House of Lords, just as the Earl of Oxford and Asquith's ancestor promised. The preamble to the Parliament Act 1911 included these stirring words.

Quote
And whereas it is intended to substitute for the House of Lords as it at present exists a Second Chamber constituted on a popular instead of hereditary basis, but such substitution cannot be immediately brought into operation:
.

I thought the idea of the Blair govt's HoL reforms was to retain only the hereditary peers who were actually worth the job and get rid of the rest, and then let those remaining 92 die off until there were no hereditaries left?

The Blair government's original idea was to have no hereditary peers in the reformed House of Lords. The "system" which now exists was the product of negotiations between the leader of the Conservative peers (Viscount Cranborne, now the Marquess of Salisbury) and the government. Salisbury was doing a deal without the knowledge of the Leader of the Opposition, which led to some amusing scenes in the House of Commons and to Salisbury being dismissed from his post. The deal however stuck.

Extract from Hansard, 2 December 1998.

Quote
Mr. William Hague (Richmond, Yorks) Can the Prime Minister confirm that he is happy to see nearly 100 hereditary peers continue to sit in the House of Lords after his forthcoming Bill on the Lords has been enacted?
§The Prime Minister I am delighted to hear the right hon. Gentleman's question. It is an indication that he is 875 now prepared to agree to what would remove hereditary peers altogether, in the two stages, from the House of Lords. If he is now prepared to agree that, we are certainly prepared to agree it; and we shall then have the chance of getting a fully reformed second Chamber without any hereditary peers at all.
§Mr. Hague Will the Prime Minister confirm, because his party may not be aware of what he is talking about on this subject, that for some weeks the Lord Chancellor has been approaching the Conservative party with a proposal to keep a proportion of the hereditary peers, explicitly sitting as hereditary peers, not as life peers, in exchange for my party's acquiescence in the rest of his ill-thought-out change? Although we welcome the huge climbdown on his part, we are not prepared to acquiesce in that change, because we are not prepared to join forces with him on major constitutional change that is based on no comprehensive plan or principle.
§The Prime Minister That is extremely interesting. Yes, we are certainly prepared to agree to a proposal that would allow us to remove the hereditary peers altogether, in two stages. We are perfectly prepared to agree that in the first stage one in 10 hereditaries stays, and in the second stage they go altogether. It is also entirely true that we were prepared to discuss that with the right hon. Gentleman's party. I thought that we had the agreement of the leader of his party in the House of Lords. Indeed, I believe that we have that agreement. [Interruption.] Will the right hon. Gentleman enlighten us whether we have his agreement?
§Mr. Hague The Prime Minister has just had the answer to that. He told the House—[Interruption.]
§Madam Speaker Order. The House will come to order, so that we can hear what hon. Members are saying.
§Mr. Hague The Prime Minister said in the Queen's Speech debate last week: We believe … that it is important to deliver on the pledge that we made to end the right of hereditary peers to sit and vote in the House of Lords.—[Official Report, 24 November 1998; Vol. 321, c. 33.] He said that their existence was a "democratic monstrosity". [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."] His party still agrees with that. Now he is proposing to keep hereditary peers in a stage 1 reform—[Interruption.] It is no good Labour Members shaking their heads. What they do not know is that the Prime Minister proposes to keep hereditary peers in a stage 1 reform of the House of Lords. Where does that leave his principles?
§The Prime Minister I take it from that that the right hon. Gentleman opposes the deal that has been agreed by the leader of the Conservative party in the House of Lords. As a result, we will indeed remove hereditary peers. We will do it by consensus, stage 1 and then stage 2, so that we can ensure that there is room in the legislative programme for other measures as well.
We are agreed on our side. I believe that the party of the right hon. Member for Yeovil (Mr. Ashdown) will agree also. His party in the House of Lords has now agreed. It is clear from this exchange that the right 876 hon. Member for Richmond, Yorks (Mr. Hague) no longer speaks for the Conservative party in the House of Lords.

§Mr. Hague The Prime Minister need be in no doubt who speaks for the Conservative party. Clearly, he is in no doubt that he speaks for the Liberal party and takes its acquiescence for granted. While we believe that his agreement to retain hereditary peers after stage 1 is a huge climbdown on the part of the Government, let me make it clear to him that we believe it is wrong to embark on fundamental change to the Parliament of this country without any idea where that will lead.
We have said before and we say now: no stage 1 reform without stage 2. Do not the Prime Minister's total lack of principle and his horse-trading confirm that it is common sense to put that reform on hold and await the report of the royal commission?

§The Prime Minister No. What is common sense is to get the thing done with as little fuss and as easily as possible, which we can now do. It is fascinating that the right hon. Gentleman is disowning the agreement that has been entered into by the leader of the Conservative party in the House of Lords. He may want to be in that position, but I doubt very much whether his party wants to be in that position. When he is provided with the means of getting reform through and agreed, he is more interested in playing games about the House of Lords than getting it done. Does he disown the deal made by the leader in the House of Lords, or does he agree with it? We should be told.
§Mr. Hague No deal has been made with the Conservative party. The deal to keep hereditary peers that the Prime Minister has tried to negotiate with the Conservative party does not address the fundamental point that the Government should not embark on major constitutional change without knowing where it leads. His proposal does not even satisfy the one principle in which he said that he was always in favour: the removal of hereditary peers.
Hon. Members on both sides of the House have approached reform of the House of Lords on the basis of a clear principle. Our position was "No reform without knowing where it is going"; until today, theirs was the removal of hereditary peers. Does that not demonstrate that the Prime Minister never had any principle on the matter at all?

§The Prime Minister In fact, it proves that, even when hereditary Conservative peers are prepared to agree to change, the right hon. Gentleman is not. That is the absurd position to which he has reduced himself. If anything demonstrates the way in which the right hon. Gentleman gets every major strategic judgment wrong, it is this.
We have the opportunity to reform the House of Lords properly, and to establish a programme that will remove hereditary peers, but will allow us to do that on the broadest possible basis of agreement. It is clear that nowadays, even when we speak to the leader of the Conservative party in the House of Lords, we cannot be sure that the leader of the Conservative party in this House is of the same mind.

§Mr. Hague What we know is that the Prime Minister intends to turn the House of Lords into a house of cronies, 877 and that he is now prepared to engage in any horsetrading that is necessary to achieve that end. It is beyond his comprehension that any politician can stand on a principle, and stand firm in his beliefs. I stand on the principle—[Interruption.]
§Madam Speaker Order. I have heard enough noise this afternoon.
§Mr. Hague rose—[Interruption.]
§Madam Speaker Order. If this continues, I shall send some Members out of the Chamber.
§Mr. Hague I stand on the principle that it is not advisable for anyone to blunder in regard to the constitution until they know where they are going. After today, it will be clear that the Prime Minister stands on no principle whatever.
§The Prime Minister I cannot prevent the right hon. Gentleman from engaging on a kamikaze mission. I can only tell him that even his cronies in the House of Lords agree with me that we should try to get this reform through. If we can manage to get it through with the minimum difficulty, it will be in the interests of the country that demands such action.
22  Other Elections - Analysis and Discussion / International Elections / Re: UK Parliamentary by-elections, 2015-2020 on: May 08, 2016, 02:35:03 am
I thought that once a Hereditary Lord died, then the election would be about selecting a formerly kicked out family of Lords and inviting one of them back into the House? It seems terribly complicated.

More or less. The complication comes because the electorate for House of Lords by-elections is not all the hereditary peers who would have had seats but for the House of Lords Act 1999, but just those hereditary peers currently serving as such in the House of Lords. Some of the hereditary peers represent party groups, so only the other serving peers from that group get to vote. There are just not that many Labour or Liberal Democrat  hereditary peers so you get two or three voters filling vacancies.

The Conservative vacancies or those for which all the hereditary peers in the House vote, have somewhat more substantial electorates.
23  General Discussion / History / Re: Who was the greatest statesman in South Carolina's history? on: May 04, 2016, 03:59:30 am
How about Henry Laurens, active in South Carolina's revolutionary era government and President of the Continental Congress in 1777-1778. Captured whilst travelling to Europe on a diplomatic mission and spent 15 months imprisoned in the Tower of London. Someone who genuinely suffered for his political beliefs not just the sort of demagogue most later SC politicians seem to have been.

Failing that option, I would suggest James F. Byrnes. He was South Carolina's greatest statesman and leading federal politician of the 20th century and a far less controversial figure than his leading challenger Strom Thurmond.
24  Other Elections - Analysis and Discussion / International Elections / Re: UK parliamentary boundary review 2016-2018 on: May 03, 2016, 03:28:07 pm
This exercise is due to be repeated every five years from now on. It remains to be seen if Parliament will let the boundary review be finished and implemented this time.

Cameron only has a small overall majority. There are far more Conservative MPs who would be adversely affected by the review than would be needed to erase the majority.

As the House of Commons would need to pass a resolution to approve the orders in council, to give effect to the new boundaries, it is not impossible that they would be rejected.
25  Other Elections - Analysis and Discussion / International Elections / Re: United Kingdom Referendum on European Union Membership on: May 03, 2016, 03:04:50 pm
The Democratic Accountability part of the 5-President's Report does not seem to envisage anything which would actually create democratic accountability.

It is not directly relevant to the present UK referendum, but I would suggest that democratic accountability would only be improved by abolishing the Commission and the Council (in its executive role) and replacing them with a European Union government responsible to the European Parliament. The Council and the Parliament could then take there proper democratic roles as a bicameral legislature, with each body having at the very least equal powers and the full right to initiate and amend legislation on any European Union competence.

My suggestions may not deal with the objection that there can be no true democratic accountability, because there is no real European polity. It is far more likely to create something useful than the bureaucratic and diplomatic waffle of the 5-President's Report.
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