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By Philippe Legrain ADD COMMENTS

Apart from the political commentariat, I think most people are sick and tired of the latest twists in the Blair vs Brown saga. The incessant feuding mainly serves to reinforce disillusion with politicians: however much they say that what really matters to them is improving our schools and hospitals or safeguarding our pensions, they appear to care most about their own prospects. So reform of the House of Lords or changes to the way political parties are funded are scarcely going to change the perception that politicians are only in it for themselves

There is also something distinctly offputting – even undemocratic –
about the claims from the Chancellor’s camp that the premiership is his
by right. It was less than a year ago that we the voters were asked to
choose a government, and the winner was the Labour Party run by Tony
Blair. For sure, I am aware that in the British political system, we
vote for parties not prime ministers (or presidents), but the
prospectus we were sold was that Blair would serve a full third term.
Yet now we are increasingly told that Blair ought to give way to Brown
much sooner.

Perhaps Blair’s time is indeed up. But if so, I think a new prime
minister, Brown or otherwise, should be required to seek a fresh
democratic mandate. After all, Brown may feel he is the heir apparent,
but he is not the democratically anointed heir, in the way that a US
vice-president is. This is not an argument against Brown specifically:
I felt just as disturbed when the Tory party thrust on the country an
unproven and uninspiring new leader called John Major.

Constitutional reform is suddenly at the top of the agenda again.
Good. Among the many proposed changes, consideration should be given to
correcting the undemocratic abuse of power that potentially allows a
cabal of members from one party to choose a leader of the country
without seeking voters’ approval.

Posted 02 Apr 2006 in Blog

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