A short history of the British constitution


How have the British ‘improved’ their constitution over the last 100 years. I have a look but conclude with how the Government is riding roughshod over what puny safeguards exist. I look at parliamentary sovereignty, suffrage, the parliament acts, the impact of the EU on the constitution, human rights act, the House of Lords and supreme court, and finally the Prime Minister. I conclude with a sad cry to do better.

Yet even more on Prime Ministers and their Mandates

Yet even more on Prime Ministers and their Mandates

I have again revised the diagram I use to illustrate the nature of Prime Ministerial mandates which I last revised a day or two ago. I started thinking about the reasons, other than electoral defeat that leads to prime ministerial departure; it comes down to ill-health or coup, and in parliament, it’s the support of your own party that is critical. I have amended the chart, to show the two reasons for departure and posted it on my wiki.

Three points, as prime ministers get younger they are less likely to resign for reasons of health although the job is much tougher today and all recent ex-prime ministers looked terrible as they resigned, except John Major who was obviously getting a lot of exercise.

My initial diagram was inaccurate in that it showed Eden as a losing inheritor, this isn’t true, he called an election which increased his majority, perhaps Gordon Brown should have studied this episode in history more carefully, but it is unlikely that it would have overcome his risk aversion or cowardice; you choose the word.

Prime Ministers: Insurgents and Inheritors & reasons for departure

Macmillan & Cameron are interesting. Cameron didn’t succumb to ill health, unless not being arsed has become a medical condition, so I count this as a coup. There are friends that dispute this, but he hd clearly lost the confidence of the nation and should have resigned. Macmillan had lost the confidence of his parliamentary party, what with all the shagging and lying, (how times change) but he had enough control to deny those who were plotting the succession because the Tories didn’t do anything as vulgar as have elections in those days.

So my theorem is that Prime Ministers that test their popularity on accession are more successful, with the examples of Douglas-Home, Callaghan (maybe), Brown and May being illustrations of failures who failed to compete within their Party or go to the country.

A second suggestion from the evidence is that either Heath’s 1970-4 administration was a fluke interruption of a 15 year Wilson government or that by selecting Douglas-Home, the Tories gifted Wilson the 64 election which he won by only four seats. Obviously, it can’t be both.  If the latter, this shows the shocking success of the Tory Party in selecting its premiers as election winners. If Maudling or Butler has succeeded McMillan, and then beaten Wilson, our governments would have looked like Italy or Japan, or West Germany. Douglas-Home is the only Tory Prime Minister not to have won re-election.


 I originally published a model in an article called “Mandates” and revised it in an article, ‘PMs and “coronations”’, in which I looked at Theresa May’s record; I made some notes in a wiki article, “Confidence of the House“. …

More about PM’s mandates

More about PM’s mandates

I have from time to time reviewed the politics and history of how Britiain’s post-war prime ministers came to power. Earlier today I was reminded of my surprise at school on learning of how Von Papen replaced Brüning ,wondering how someone from the same side could succeed someone who had lost a vote of no-confidence. At the time in the UK, party government was secure and sectarian, although this was about to change.  I published a model in an article called “Mandates” and revised it in an article, ‘PMs and “coronations”’, in which I looked at Theresa May’s record, which caused my model problems of definition. I was inclined to believe that now both the major parties have “primary” leadership elections, party coronations are not successful. May is a case in point while Johnson had to fight a member’s ballot. Anyway, as this Tory administration reaches, what if there were any justice, its denouement, here’s what the chart looks like today.

It only shows those leaders who became prime minister; politics may have changed to the point where we need to include those leaders who lost elections as well.

I first explored this in 2010 when the press were claiming that Gordon Brown was squatting in No. 10 after they had monstered him for not seeking a mandate in 2008. Good politics might suggest that he should have done so. …

All change

It’s been a week in politics; the UK has a new Prime Minister, the once London’s formerly very occasional Mayor Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson. This rather eclipses the LibDem’s announcement that they too have a new Leader, one Jo Swinson. This will make for interesting times.

So Corbyn has outlasted two Tory Premier’s, although, one tweeter, probably not a fan, said it was like saying she had outlasted two of Brad Pitt’s wives. …

Electing a Prime Minister

It’s been an exciting couple of days in British Politics. One interesting fact that I was pointed at by Paddy Ashdown on the Radio this morning is that of the 12 Prime Ministers since the 2nd World War, only 6 came to office by winning an election. i.e. Only 50% of post war Prime Ministers came to office by winning an election.

How 1940’s 1950’s 1960’s 1970’s 1980/90’s Post 1997
General Election Attlee Churchill Wilson Heath Thatcher Blair
Between Election Eden & MacMillan Dougas Home Callaghan Major Brown

The table above doesn’t show Wilson’s second administration. Also Ashdown says that it was five who became Prime Ministers on the basis of the ability to command a majority in the House of Commons, rather than on the back of a general election, so I may have made a mistake. I used Wikipedia’s British General Elections page as my source. …