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By Philippe Legrain 7 COMMENTS

Forgive me if I’m wrong, but isn’t Britain meant to be a democracy? And doesn’t that mean that it ought to be up to voters who runs the country, and that nobody has an inherent right to rule? Not according to Gordon Brown. The Chancellor, we are told, has been waiting to be prime minister all his life; he was promised the top job by Tony Blair back in 1994; and it is high time the prince received his inheritance.

Yet many people yearn to be prime minister – some desperately so –
without this giving them any rights to occupy Number 10. Nor, for all
his quasi-regal pretensions, is the prime ministership in Tony Blair’s
gift: he is not the king of Saudi Arabia who must choose his successor
among his brothers and sons. And Gordon Brown is not Prince Charles: a
man to whom the crown is due, eventually.

Such is Brown’s arrogant belief that he has a right to rule that he
demands not only that a prime minister elected to serve a full term
depart on a timetable set by him, but that Blair anoint him his
successor, and close down the opportunity for even the Labour Party –
let alone the voters at large – to have their say.

In the short term, he may well succeed. But there is something
contemptuously undemocratic about Brown’s slow putsch. If it is a
foretaste of how he intends to govern, his reign is likely to prove

Brown may believe that he is owed the top job, but after this
week’s unseemly events the voters – when they are eventually consulted
– are increasingly likely to decide otherwise.

Posted 07 Sep 2006 in Blog
  1. Politics 101 says:

    You are wrong and I don’t forgive you as you are spuriously spouting information that you know is wrong.
    Britain has a Parliamentary representational democracy in which people vote for local representatives. The elected MPs then vote who should be in government/the prime minister.
    I would have thought even someone who has had such a succession of nonjobs as “special adviser”, “director of policy” and “commentator” should know the basis of the UK democratic system. Most of the PMs of the last 30 years have been been appointed first during the course of a Parliament rather than immediately after an election.

  2. Philippe Legrain says:

    I am delighted that you are so stuck for good arguments that you feel a need to insult me.
    The issue is not whether what Gordon Brown is doing is constitutionally permissible: of course it is. The issue is whether it is right.
    There can be no denying that even if Brown can get away with bullying Blair to resign and then becoming leader of the Labour Party (and thus prime minister) with only token opposition, his actions, and his belief that he is owed the job, show utter contempt for the voters.
    Martin Kettle has also described what is going on as a coup.

  3. Gregg says:

    The issue is not whether what Gordon Brown is doing is constitutionally permissible: of course it is. The issue is whether it is right.
    If that is the issue, the surely you should be criticising Britain’s Parliamentary system and calling for constitutional change to create a directly-elected executive (indeed, a republic), rather than attacking Gordon Brown.

  4. Chris says:

    “And doesn’t that mean that it ought to be up to voters who runs the country”
    As was pointed out, though interspersed with insults, the voters elect a local MP who will form a coalition with other MPs (normally of their own party) and recommend a leader who the Queen will officially appoint.
    The voters elect the ruling party, and that hasn’t changed. The voters have never directly elected the Prime Minister. If you think they should, then you must campaign for a change in the way British democracy works. To rail at the individuals who are currently elected for not having a different constitution to work with is a bit silly (particularly so in this case given how little ideological difference there is between the current leader and the alleged successor – it’s a change in personnel, not direction).

  5. Consultants-b-gone says:

    So who failed Politics 101 then….

  6. JohnHillaryBenn says:

    Phillippee – you show an admirable lack of grasp of detail across the board! Truly a pundit for all seasons!
    Good to see you’re over extending yourself into British constitutional arrangements as well. Savvy thinking – Lord St John of Fawsley doesn’t have his wits about him like he used to. I look forward to the future appearances – ‘hasn’t the queen suffered enough’ was a favourite of his, keep it up your sleeve for those off the cuff flashes of insight.

  7. c.j.jencks (usa) says:

    Please don’t let this site become a series of hurried pieces appended by a torrent of drivel, insults and dim-witted posturing like Comment is free. I’m genuinely shocked at how many people get up in the morning and pride themselves in typing the word ‘tosser’ anonymously.
    It’s patently clear that Philippe understands the basic principles and procedures of British democracy -in fact, my main criticism of this post is that it appears to be a quick re-hash of a previous one, one where his basic level of knowledge is made more evident.

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