Gaming Your Way

May contain nuts.

Power of recall please.

One of our rare political posts on here. Both Olli and myself try and avoid them as we don't speak for each other when it comes to things like politics and religion, and this is meant to be a blog about Flash and our tinkering with it. But sometimes things need to be vented.

The whole ethos of the political system in Britain, and most Western countries, is that you vote for someone to represent your views in Parliament / equivalent. At a maximum every 5 years ( There is no fixed term government in the UK, it's up to the Prime Ministers disgression ) we have a general election where every "seat" in the House of Commons is voted for. The only other time a seat can be contested is during a by-election, which usually comes about due to the current MP ( Member of Parliament ) being taken ill and unable to carry out their duties.

In Britain we don't have the power to "recall" a MP. Recall is basically a vote of no confidence in a MP where through voter power they can lose their seat and a by-election can be called to replace them. Ironically we do have the power to push through a motion of no confidence, but that's not in our hands, that's only available to the opposition parties. If a motion is put forward then the majority of the house of commons has to vote for it for it to be passed. If the government of the day has an overall majority, then unless a lot of it's own members rebel, it's not going to get passed. I can't see many MPs voting to lose their jobs on morale grounds.

In effect, there is no way through voter power to remove either one single MP, or a whole government, until the current Prime Minister sets a date for a general election, or the parliamentary term runs out.

Earlier this year we had the expenses row. MP's more than playing the system, they were effectively stealing from the British public, the tax payers, the people who put them into power basically. They've stolen our money, and we can do nothing at all about it. Nothing.

One of my favourite quotes about it was from the Tory MP Alan Duncan, describing the situation after the expenses row broke, "You have to live on rations and you are treated like shit.". This is someone who in the last six years has claimed £127,658 under the second home allowance. Of course he apologised after wards, explaining it was just a joke. Mr Duncan, you jokester you.

No way to get rid of these people. Unreal.

What can happen though is that public opinion can turn so badly against an MP that they look to stand down at the next election ( As there is no way they can win ). This isn't really falling on the sword for things like claiming extensive mortgage payments on a property which is already paid for and claiming it was an oversight ( That's not even me making it up to justify my point. Or happened just the once ).
Come the next general election a lot of MP's will be standing down due to the expenses row, so up until then they will still be representing their constituents in parliament. Why aren't these people quitting on the spot and enabling a by-election when they have lost the confidence of the people they are paid to represent ?

Meet the golden parachute payment. This little beauty is in place to "ease" MP's back into life outside of politics. This is a sum based on age and length of time as a MP. The best thing ? The first £30,000 is tax free. Recently it's been agreed that the amount of the salary they receive will increase. Every 3 years the Review Body on Senior Salaries ( SSRB ) reviews MP's pay levels. This same review body recommended that only MPs who have lost their seats at an election, or due to boundary changes, should receive this payment. If you've resigned, you shouldn't get it. Just to show how toothless this body actually is, this recommendation has been overturned by a committee of MPs. Vested interest ?

Is it any wonder that MP's are going to stand down at the next election, rather than do the honorable thing and quit now.

Here's an interesting thing. In May 2007 BP ( British Petroleum ) signed a deal with Libya to embark on a sharing deal of any gas or oil deposits found in the country. BP gets a healthy 19% share, in return for a $900 million investment. It's been quoted that the deal could generate as much as £15 billion in revenue.
Now BP have had a rough time of it recently, their profits are less than projected over the last quarter. A mere $2.6 billion, with yearly profits being $25.6 billion. Hard times, when you consider how much they spend on exploration and still see profits like that. These numbers are just vast. This is the 5th largest company in the world.

21st December 1988 a terrorist bomb was detonated in Pan Am flight 103, with the bulk of the wreckage landing on the Scottish town of Lockerbie. In total 270 were killed.

On 31 January 2001 Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed Al Megrahi was convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment.

On the 20th of this month he was freed on compassionate grounds as he has been diagnosed with terminal cancer. He's gone home to die.

This has obviously caused an outcry from all corners, relatives of victims, the US government ( Including the FBI ), the British press, the British people as a whole weren't in favour of this ( See this poll taken in Scotland ).

Remember how we mentioned BP and it's deal with Libya. Letters have been leaked that implicate the release of al-Megrahi with that deal being ratified.

Here's a quote from Saad Djebbar, a lawyer who advises the Libyan government "No one was in any doubt that if al-Megrahi died in a Scottish prison it would have serious repercussions for many years which would be to the disadvantage of British industry". Pretty obvious which industry that comment was aimed at, unless there are lots of British businesses investing $900 million + in Libya.

Here's a quote from a letter from Jack Straw, Secretary of State for Justice, sent to Kenny MacAskill, his Scottish counterpart in December 2007.
"The wider negotiations with the Libyans are reaching a critical stage and in view of the overwhelming interests for the United Kingdom, I have agreed in this instance the [prisoner transfer agreement] should be in the standard form and not mention any individual."
In his defence Straw originally didn't want to include al-Megrahi in any prisoner exchange deal, but did a U-turn as can be seen in the quote above.

Six weeks after that letter was sent the deal with BP was finally ratified.

One last quote, from Saif Gadaffi, Colonel Gadaffi's son, "People should not get angry because we were talking about commerce or oil. We signed an oil deal at the same time. The commerce and oil deals were all with the [prisoner transfer agreement]."

I think we're all grown up enough to know that all governments do things for what could be deemed the greater good without informing us. It's just that when politicians are shown to have told lies to us, the people who put them in power, the people who pay their wages, that we should have the right to remove them from their posts. The BP deal could generate up to £15 billion. How much of that will come back to us the tax payers ( Going by figures from 2002, only 20% ) ? Has a person who was convicted of killing 270 people been freed for purely economic reasons, to help wealthy people become more wealthy ? And if so, it's been done in our name, and there is nothing we can do about it.


Comments (3) -

  • Clint

    8/31/2009 1:39:19 PM |

    Wow -- good rant.

    Thanks for the perspective from across the pond.

    Somewhat odd to me that us Yanks seem to talk a lot about wanting to be more like France and GB, but it's not exactly a Never Never Land over there.


  • Squize

    9/1/2009 10:18:22 AM |

    Thanks mate.

    The expenses row was bad enough after we'd just bailed out the banks, showing that banks can take any amount of risk to make money as they will always be bailed out, but now to hear both the Scottish and Westminster Parliments justifying releasing a mass murderer whilst denying it has anything to do with generating money for a company that isn't even state owned... It's just another in a long line of acts which are both wrong and yet done in our name.

    Britain, like France, likes to flex it's political muscle every now and again to remind the rest of the world that we can, that we're more than America's lapdog, but normally when either country does it they seem to screw it up big time.

  • John Cotterell

    9/1/2009 12:41:35 PM |

    I agree with a lot of the sentiment.

    But put things in perspective, when we send people to the middle east to kill innocent civilians, we expect to get them back in one piece, and they might get some kind of trade benefits in return.

    Why is it so awful when it's the other way around?

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