Thursday, April 23, 2015

Selecting a minister who is prime: The British Elections

#10 Downing Street is the British equivalent, in London, of our White House. And there is a mad scramble among seven contenders to sit in it.

n the United Kingdom, for the first time in five years, the people are going to the polls. It will happen two weeks from today, and the country with a population just shy of 70 million, a nation that has been out greatest ally almost since the day after we whipped them in our great Revolutionary War and sent them packing, except for the unpleasant time they burned down Washington DC of course, does things a bit differently than we do.

Current Prime Minister, David Cameron
They have no president, and what they have, the prime minister, is not elected like our president is. In fact, in the House of Commons, their lower, popularly elected house of 650 members, the people cast the votes for the members of some seven to twelve different parties. The party that gets the most votes usually will then be asked by the Queen to form a government. And the head of the party becomes Prime Minister.

If the Prime Minister's coalition breaks down, or if at any time his party gives him a vote of "no confidence" he falls from power within hours, or as the saying goes "the government falls" as is not an uncommon occurrence, and their is a mad scramble for his job. David Cameron however, has managed to hold his Tories and their allies the Liberal Democrats together long enough to have a new election, and to give him a new lease on life.

Ed Milliband, head of Labor
However, this time round, as it was to a lesser extend five years ago when current Prime Minister David Cameron came in, things are not going to be so easy. The two major parties, their version of Republicans, the Tories and their version of Democrats, the Labor Party, (although it should be recalled that is a rough assessment, Tories would be considered liberal Republicans, for the most part) are both hovering around only 30% support each. The deluge of other parties, (fourteen currently hold seats in the House of Commons) including the highly conservative United Kingdom Independence Party, (UKIP), so called because one of their main tenants is that they want the United Kingdom to become free of the European Union, have upset a delicate balance of power. If no party gets a majority, and no party is expected to, then either Ed Milliband, the leader of the Labor Party or David Cameron, the current Prime Minister and head of the Tories, will form a government with enough other parties to between them hold a majority of 326 voting members in the house of commons. All of the losers will form the opposition, under either Milliband or Cameron, whichever loses, and that one will become the “Shadow Minister” with a job mainly to complain about what the other party is doing, and how he would have done it way better. (Sound familiar?)
The British are facing things which many here can relate to, although their most important concerns may be surprising. In a poll taken not long ago, it showed that the thing most commonly identified as the most important factor in the race is immigration, with 27%, with another 45% saying it is “important.” The next most common thing is the economy, at only 13%. 28% that is “important” but not the most important thing.
Nigel Farage, a man who probably won't be prime minister, but because he can
decide who his highly conservative UKIP Party sides with come election day to
form a government, he may be the kingmaker when it comes to either Milliband
or David Cameron attempting to become the "Minister Who is Prime."
The conundrum for Brits is difficult. They want a strong economy, (who doesn’t?), but they are a part of the European Union, which means they cannot easily stop migrants from either European Members from coming, and well over a million have come to their small island because of their strong economy, and Europe’s weak one. The stronger Britain is, the more people come, and the more jobs, so the argument goes, are taken from British people.

Cameron promises that if, after the seventh of next month, election day, he is still in #10 Downing Street, he will give the people a referendum on whether they want to stay in the EU. He states he personally would prefer to remain, thinking there is more good for Britain inside than out, but believes it should be the people's choice.
In the next two weeks I’ll talk more about them, but that, in a nutshell, is the situation facing Edward Milliband of the red, liberal Labor party and Prime Minister David Cameron, head of the Conservative Tories. And the tipping point party, UKIP, under Nigel Farage.
The arguments will be fiercer and fiercer now as the time winds down, and with all of the shouting matches that British Politicians are so fond of engaging taking place, the Queen’s Island, with their castles and gardens, tea times and expensive horses, won’t be looking quite so dignified.

Andrew C. Abbott

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