Simon Bisson (sbisson) wrote,
Simon Bisson

Does the British public need a national civics lesson?

I know I shouldn't read the comments on the BBC blogs (especially Robert Peston's), but there's a certain car-crash fascination with watching logical fallacies colliding with the real world. I keep my mouth shut, laugh a little and move on to the rest of the internet.

However there's one big howler that keeps recurring and that I'm starting to find (a) annoying and (b) extremely worrying.

The main thrust of this so-called argument is that Gordon Brown was never voted for as Prime Minister, and so has no mandate for governing the country. I'm really astounded by this, as it implies a complete lack of understanding of the British political system, and of just how the country is governed. Of course this basic ignorance might explain why a sizeable number of them believe that one BBC journalist's reports are responsible for much the current economic morass...

This then leads me to ask the obvious question: do these people know how a parliamentary representative democracy like Britain (and much of the Commonwealth) actually works? It also leads on to the sadder question: if they don't, how did they get to voting age without knowing anything about the political system that governs their day-to-day lives?

Britain isn't a presidential state like the USA or Eire or France. We don't vote for a President on top of our elected local representative. Instead we vote for a Member of Parliament, and the leader of the majority grouping in Parliament becomes the Prime Minister. We don't vote for a party slate or for a party leader - we vote for the person we believe will do the best for our constituency. If you voted for your MP believing that you were voting for Tony Blair or David Cameron or whoever, well, your mistake. But just because you don't know how the world works isn't an excuse for it not working the way you want it to.

If the majority party changes leader, well, they just go on to become Prime Minister, with no need for a general election. We may even get the rare situation where minority parties go into coalition and completely replace the majority government. Again, there's no need for an election. While these changes may mean a new person at the top, the person you voted for is still in Parliament - and still answerable to you for their actions.

I suspect it's time for a mass civics lesson, and a pointer to They Work For You.

It's enough to make me want to scream.

However I have a blog, so I'll just rant there instead.
Tags: blogs, politics
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