Government Watch (1)

I don’t think I have done much to hide my dislike of the current UK government, despite declaring myself to be a political neutral. In fairness, I might be just as scathing if Labour were in power! Clearly governing any country, not least my own, is not going to be easy given the huge challenges that are faced. As with other like minded community activists my intention is not to engage in negativism but rather to work with all and sundry when I can, and if at all possible with the government given they have at least some power to change things, to effect solutions which, while never perfect given all the complexities, will be those most likely to achieve the common good, and always with the view to make the government accountable.

As I referred to today’s BBC online news (generally a quick and effective way to find out what is going on) there were two stand out stories which on the face of it do not appear related other than the need somehow to bring government to account and encourage it to do the right thing. The first item of news has the title “Lords veto powers ‘to be curtailed” and begins: “David Cameron is preparing to use the full force of the law to clip the wings of the House of Lords after it blocked his welfare cuts, the BBC has learned. A review will say peers should lose their absolute veto over detailed laws known as secondary legislation. Peers will instead be offered a new power to send these laws back to the Commons, forcing MPs to vote again – but will only be able to do this once. The review was ordered after peers voted to delay tax credit cuts. Labour said the reform was a “massive over-reaction” to the government defeat.”

When I studied British Constitution as an “O-Level” subject, the majority of the Lords was made up with hereditary peers. I was sold on the idea that despite a far from ideal composition that a second chamber was still needed in the interest of checks and balances and sound governance. Long before my time, there have been cases of frustrations within government when their ideas have been effectively blocked by the Lords, although in reality this is not a regular occurrence. The government is miffed this time around for reasons stated, but in my view it would be a mistake to clip the wings of the second chamber for the sufferer will be democracy itself, which some say is already under attack and the people given this and indeed all governments in my memory score low in the competency stakes. My caveat is that recent reforms of the Lords have not gone far enough and the people in it are not the best of the bunch, often getting there by dubious means like being a benefactor to a political party. Looking at the recent issues when the Lords have overcome a Commons decision, in every case the Lords were right.

The other newsworthy item is the forthcoming EU summit where a range of issues with be discussed. The BBC News under the title: “EU referendum: Leaders to discuss Cameron’s reformsbegins thus: “David Cameron’s EU reform proposals are to be discussed by European leaders – with many said to be hostile to his bid to curb migrants’ welfare payments. The first substantial political discussion of the detail of the PM’s plans is expected over dinner at the European Council summit in Brussels. The EU Council president has predicted a “serious debate with no taboos”. Mr Cameron wants to reform the UK’s relationship with the EU ahead of an in-out referendum by the end of 2017. Also on the agenda at the EU Council meeting will be the migrant crisis, climate change and the fight against terrorism”.

I will watch with interest what takes place in Brussels since the subjects under discussion are very important, not just securing a deal (which appears unlikely to be substantial or what euroskeptics like me would be looking for) regarding the UK’s EU membership, in order to put forward a case for “staying in” in the forthcoming EU in-out referendum, but the migrant crisis, climate change and the fight against terrorism are all subjects where a lot more progress is needed to be made, especially among EU partners working collaboratively,  in order to tackle these huge issues anywhere near effectively. I have blogged about all these subjects in the past and no doubt will do so in the future, but let it be stated here that my series of Government watch blog postings has officially begun.

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