Monday, 1 August 2022

I Love The Smell Of Truss In The Morning?

I was wondering why there was nothing on Newsnight about the Leadership Election, but then I realised that straight after it was Apocalypse Now: Final Cut, and the BBC did not want it to make that look whimsical and optimistic by comparison.

The argument that the Prime Minister should be whoever was chosen by the majority party in the House of Commons would hold if this election were by those MPs alone. But whom do the party members represent? Only themselves. Liz Truss is going to give them what they want, tax cuts for the affluent elderly while funding their sweeties out of borrowing, leading to astronomical interest rates to the benefit of savings account holders who had paid off their mortgages decades earlier. All in the throes of a cost of living crisis. But only those members will have voted for that, and no one has voted them.

Why should my MP, who is a Conservative, honour the choice of Prime Minister of the gold card British citizens who had paid to join the Conservative Party and whose fees it had consented to accept? Most of them probably live in seats that were blue on the map even in 1997 and 2001. They are wildly unrepresentative, they are effectively self-selecting, and giving them the last word adds nothing to their party's electoral appeal. It would be worth looking into which candidate the MPs for marginal and Red Wall seats, such as this one, generally favoured, and then for whom the members, who had mostly never seat eyes on such places, voted in droves.

For that matter, why should the Queen honour the choice of Prime Minister of the Conservative Party's paying members, whose applications for membership the party would have been within its rights to have rejected? If this were happening under a Labour Government, then the people who were now lapping it up would be going bananas, and they would have a point. Under the arrangements in place in 2007, then a Labour Leadership Election would have gone out to a ballot including all trade unionists who had chosen to pay the political levy. The usual suspects would have a had a fit. Yet that would have been a far larger number of people than this, much more evenly spread across the country, and by every index closer to the demographic norm.

We are having a Presidential Election right now. I do not think that we should be, but as soon as the Leader of the governing party is elected by anyone other than its MPs, then the point has been conceded. The thing is that hardly anyone can vote in this Presidential Election. You have to pay a membership fee to a private organisation that can refuse to take it from you. You can join that organisation from anywhere in the world, without needing to be a British citizen or ever to have set foot here in your life. Yet the winner of this contest will be the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom well within 24 hours of the result's having been declared, and the whole process is taking place while Parliament is not even sitting.

It is quite a feat to find a body of people even less typical of the general population than MPs were, but that can be said of those who wanted this of all winters to be garlanded with double digit interest rates, and whose idea of a serious politician was someone wearing a Margaret Thatcher fancy dress costume. Yet boy, are they triggered if you question their privilege. Their entitlement is breathtaking, genuinely assuming that their right to appoint the Prime Minister is integral and even fundamental to the Constitution. What a thing it must be to be able to sack or evict everyone else in the room, and to have been in that position for 12 generations.

Unless you have a better idea, and you very well may have, then here is mine. Most Opposition parties have no parliamentary representation, and only in the most wildly improbable circumstances could any install its Leader as Prime Minister without there having been a General Election. But when that office were indeed guaranteed to be assumed by a party's Leader, then its internally determined shortlist of two ought to be submitted to an election among all registered parliamentary electors in the United Kingdom. No party could afford that. But the State could.