Saturday, 29 March 2008

Electing Gladstone

A late post tonight. We've arrived home from a quiz evening at church, and, what with it being the night for putting the clocks forward one hour (already done the microwave and the oven), I should probably go to sleep.

But, before I do, one of the questions in the final, 'History' round, was this:

"How many times was William Gladstone elected Prime Minister?'

Being suspicious of trivia and tricks, I tried an answer of "0". Partly, because I really didn't know the right answer. However, as I thought about it a bit more, I starting thinking that Prime Ministers never get elected - they are appointed.

Firstly, we elect our representative to parliament. Then, as a consequence of this, either the leader of the political party in the majority is elected in his or her constituency, and one assumes the Queen (head of state) will appoint him her prime minister. Or, the leader of the political party in the majority is not elected, and thus the parliamentary party needs to elect itself a new leader, or follow its current hierarchy, prior to the Queen appointing him or her, her prime minister.
Millmead - Guildford Baptist Church
My point is this - our system of a constitutional democracy should not be summarily packaged into neat soundbites and titbits of understanding. Unfortunately it is, often by media columnists and leaders, and these end up being the 'facts' that we all think we know.

It's probably not the end of the world, but it did make me pause and think on the nature of our political system in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. Hope it's made you think too.

No comments: