Gordon Brown became Prime Minister in June 2007. He did not face a leadership contested from within the Labour Party (his only potential opponent, John McDonnell, only received 8.2% of nominations) and Brown was always seen as Tony Blair’s designated successor.
Gordon Brown was an unlucky Prime Minister. He was unlucky in two senses:
This week the Hybrid Parliament that has been in operation since 22nd April ended. The Hybrid Parliament saw large screens set up in the House of Commons chamber to allow members to participate in debates via Zoom. In addition, MPs voted electronically meaning that everyone could participate.
This is an interesting little book. Short, with only 112 pages, it really encompasses Sumption’s views on Britain’s democratic system and the role of law within it. Alongside it being a gentle but generally enjoyable read, not a chapter went by where I didn’t think it would make ideal extension reading for a sixth form student.
Prime Minister’s Questions is a divisive topic. On the face of it, it shows Parliament at its worst: raised voices, orchestrated heckling and debatable focus on answering the questions posed. However, it is the only time that the Prime Minister can ordinarily be held directly accountable to the elected representatives of the people.
Other major democracies such as the US, France and Germany have no equivalent. There is a constitutional reason why this is. The Head of their executive branch is directly elected. Britain, however, is a parliamentary democracy. The Prime Minister is indirectly elected and only hold their position by retaining the confidence of the House of Commons.
The spectacle of the House of Commons at PMQs is not to everyone’s taste. The two sides of the house jeer and shout with the Speaker having to plead for order on numerous occasions. Polls have consistently suggested that watching PMQs puts people off of politics. So, what is the purpose of PMQs and is it worth the ire that it brings from some quarters?