Coffee House

A full separation of powers could reinvigorate parliament

26 July 2014

1:22 PM

26 July 2014

1:22 PM

Last summer, parliament was recalled after President Assad’s forces used chemical weapons in Syria. David Cameron wanted the Commons to support air strikes against the Syrian regime in response. But the Commons refused, defeating the government motion.

Whatever you thought of the decision, it was a bold move by MPs. They had demonstrated that even on matters of war and peace, the traditional preserves of the executive, they were prepared to stand athwart the Prime Minister.

[Alt-Text]


The decision changed Western foreign policy, but not perceptions of parliament. Almost a year on, the public are still cynical about the institution and MPs remain deeply unsure of the worth of what they are doing. The decision of so many departing ministers to announce that they are standing down as MPs at the next election suggests that they don’t see the point of being in the Commons if they are not also in government.

This all makes me wonder, as I say in the column this week, if only a constitutional upheaval can reinvigorate parliament. The time might have come for a full separation of powers, removing the executive from the legislature and giving Parliament its own distinct identity and role. Thoughts in the comments please.

Subscribe to The Spectator today for a quality of argument not found in any other publication. Get more Spectator for less – just £12 for 12 issues.


Show comments
  • Cyril Sneer

    “parliament was recalled after President Assad’s forces used chemical weapons in Syria”

    Not a good start to an article considering it wasn’t Assad that used chemical weapons on Ghouta, at least the west does not have sufficient evidence but there is in fact better evidence that points to the rebels. Hence why the Ghouta attacks was dropped by the MSM.

    The Assad using chemical weapons line comes from a government and media that is able to point blame in the downing of MH17 yet has absolutely no evidence to support that accusation.

    I now take the default position that anything that comes out of the MSM and government is a lie until proven otherwise.

  • M P Jones

    “Last summer, parliament was recalled after President Assad’s forces used chemical weapons in Syria.”

    Which the writer should have known, a few months later turned to be a Turkey-controlled false-flag operation that had nothing whatsoever to do with the Syrian government or President Assad.

  • Roger Hudson

    The main question of this major constitutional change will be : will we get a written constitution/ answer : yes please.
    I hope you all read the draft Scotish piece.
    1> the people are in charge.
    2> The law is sovereign above all.
    etc .
    We could do it ( British people in the past have lead the world in constitutional ideas) and we should do it, now.
    I believe we should get it ready for the start of the next monarchy ( i hope that doesn’t make me guilty of the treason of ‘envisioning the death of the sovereign’ , not intended.).

  • Monte

    The UK already has more than sufficient separation of powers – it’s called “prerogative”. The only substantial further step beyond the exercise of the crown’s prerogative by HMG would be political independence through separate election and no or minimal responsibility to the legislature, such as characterize the American and French chiefs of state or (briefly) the Israeli head of government. Each a sterling example of constitutional dysfunction.

    Moreover, the UK has suffered more than its share of poorly-conceived constitutional tinkering in the last two decades: the last thing it needs is further radical surgery.

  • edward

    I think we should have seperationof powers.

    Like it or not we now have full time legislators. MPs can no longer claim to have a full time government job as well as working for their constituents.

    It is a special kind of corruption that is tolerated that MPs can be persuaded to vote for something because loyal MPs are more likely to get mineestrrial positions. This would not be tolerated in most other institutions.

  • CO Jones

    “Last summer, parliament was recalled after President Assad’s forces used chemical weapons in Syria.”

    Errata: “Last summer, parliament was recalled after President Assad’s forces were alleged to have used chemical weapons in Syria.”

    The proof of that allegation, which we were promised from all quarters, never materialised. As usual.

  • Bonkim

    Bad decision not to bomb Assad’s lair in Damascus. Look what it has given is – ISIS, break up of Iraq, a new Israel/Hamas war, persecution of Christians and minorities, total instability in the region.

    Commons were fools to thwart Cameron and Haig’s thrust at the time, and even put off the US joining in.

  • dalai guevara

    This is quite astonishing – your post has stood all day and it has not occured to anyone that not separation of powers is the issue but the prerequisite which is the power of proportional representation.

    • Inverted Meniscus

      Shouldn’t you be eating Dpam as suggested by your other sock puppet lad?

  • misomiso

    Politicians would Love separation as they could go and earn money in the private sector on the ‘off’ years.

    But it doesn’t really work, as separate legislatures behave appallingly around the world (US Congress?) as they have power without responsiblity. A toxic mix.

    Far better (sickens me to agree with the Lib Dems) to reconstitute the electoral system for PR, as that makes it easier for Politicians to move in and out of Politics and forces them to respond to the public. The trick is picking the right system. STV which the Lib Dems like is awful, as is AV+. Better to pick a system similar to current strong nations like Germany / Turkey / Israel.

    What is unspoken though is immigration. its astounding how high it ranks on polls, but the poltiical class wont do anything about it.

  • http://atoryblog.blogspot.com Man in a Shed

    At least we’d get ministers who were qualified and had real experience instead of the Oxford PPE clone political professionals.

    • Monte

      What makes you think so? French ministers are appointed under a constitutional system of separate powers. And yet famously (Fabius, Cazeneuve and Sapin are current examples) they tend overwhelmingly to derive from ENA or Sciences Po, the French equivalent of Oxbridge PPE.

  • mikewaller

    God spare us from a full separation of powers! If we did it we would finish up with the kind of broken-backed political system the Americans have wished upon themselves.

    The crucial trick the Tories missed was so resolutely setting their faces against AV. Not only was the leaflet they and others campaigned under a shameful farrago of lies and distortions, getting what they wished for has proved a monumental own goal. Given the present political climate, AV would almost certainly have delivered a Tory/UKIP coalition that would have had the Tory Eurosceptics jumping for joy, not least because they would expect to stab UKIP in the back as effectively as they have the Liberals. Not only this, but being kinder to the Liberals in respect of both AV and the House of Lords would have delivered the 20 or so new constituencies courtesy of the Electoral Commission, that the Liberals subsequently blocked.

    I rejoice in these unforced errors because I believe they stem from the same pathetic self-delusions that underpin the incredible stupidity of Euroscepticism.

  • the viceroy’s gin

    Wait, let’s get this straight… so a few of the Londonistan political class, a class that is absolutely despised by the citizenry and ranks down with journalistas and flesh-peddlers, a few of these worthies is leaving and it’s supposed to call for constitutional tear-up? Please.

    Good riddance, is the best response to such as these leaving. There are plenty more where they came from, and likely a better more .

  • The Masked Marvel

    Anyone who thinks the only reason to be in Parliament is to secure a position of power for themselves should be shown the door in any case. How many MPs are poor representatives for their constituencies these days?

  • Tom M

    “….removing the executive from the legislature and giving Parliament its own distinct identity and role…..”
    Sorry to be pedantic but we’ve done that already which is why political parites like Ukip are lobbying for votes.

  • HookesLaw

    I don’t think the decision was to support actual strikes… it was to refuse to support even thinking about them and going to the UN. Crass and opportunistic in equal measure. Crass by tory backbenchers and opportunistic by labour who immediately after, as I recall, were saying they still might actually support air strikes.

    What possible role can there be for parliament when it ceases to take responsibilities for its actions? All we are left with is just an endless series of pork barrel bargaining with the executive in return for support.
    How do you separate executive from legislature without a directly elected executive – ie President? Do we want endless battles between executive and legislature?

  • Q46

    The alternative to the UK’s representative democracy would be a republic with an executive unaccountable to the electorate… see what is going on in the USA, despite the best effort of those who framed the US Constitution to prevent the very power grab by the executive, co-opting of the ‘independent’ judiciary and misuse of Government agencies, non-accountable either, to pursue political aims.

    It seems an odd article to start out by showing how Parliament actually did represent the People… its job… and check the Executive, then because departing Ministers will not stay on in Parliament, say that the system should be changed to some republican model whereby Parliament will have no check over the Executive.

    What those Ministers show is that perhaps too many go into Parliament out of self-interest (they will as a result of ministerial status be assured lucrative jobs in business and other institutions) and see a job in Government as just a stage in their career to higher reward.

    We don’t need to change the system, but perhaps the selection methods, open primaries, recall and perhaps ban on ex-ministers holding any job at advisory or Board level in business for five or ten years after leaving Office.

    • SimonToo

      Exactly. If the
      executive is removed from Parliament, just how will the executive be answerable
      to Parliament? As Charles I showed, the
      executive can keep running a long time without Parliament voting it any money.

      The executive has attempted to neutralise Parliament with its ever increasing payroll vote (with the latest wheeze being the bigging up of
      juniors by their “attending cabinet”). The ordinary members should take more control of the running of Parliament from the executive, and also from the party leaderships – but separating the
      executive from Parliament would diminish the effectiveness of MPs over the
      executive regardless of the amount of control the ordinary members had over the
      running of Parliament.

      One problem, of course, ist hat most MPs are instinctively Conservative. Just as ordinary Conservatives dislike taxing
      the rich heavily because, against the odds, they hope to be rich themselves one
      day, so too are ordinary MPs reluctant to curtail the executive because,
      against the odds, most of them hope to part of the executive themselves one
      day.

  • Paul Owen

    The trouble with that is you end up getting Washington style logjams and impasses. The beauty of the parliamentary system is that the largest party forms the government and the leader of that government is accountable to parliament. I used to think a proper separation of powers was a good idea but that just creates new difficulties and pork barrel politics so that the legislature can grandstand. Also, where would it fit in to a devolved system?

    On balance, though parliament could do with being strengthened or at least asserting itself more often, our present system is the better approach. What is needed is reform of the House of Lords and the crony politics it encourages.

    • Andy

      The Washington system is loosely based on our system – it has been described as a ‘Tudor monarchy with telephones’.
      We should reform the electoral system so that constituencies are the same size regardless of geographic area.
      We need to finally answer the West Lothian Question and that means an English Parliament which mirrors that at Holyrood. In doing this we would then end up reforming our central government – the Minister of Health would be redundant in the central government.
      The House of Lords was far better before the idiot Blair messed with it. We need to finally resolve this question and I think it should act as the Second Chamber to all the ‘federal parliaments’ too. But if you reform the HofL you must also repeal the Parliament Acts. The HofL must have the power to say no. Because of these acts the Commons has been over mighty particularly when we have lefty governments.
      Finally the Privy Council needs to be strengthened and along with that the powers of the Monarchy. The Queen acts on the advise of her ministers, but perhaps she should act on the advice of her council. That means its composition needs to be examined.

    • Andy

      The Washington system is loosely based on our system – it has been described as a ‘Tudor monarchy with telephones’.
      We should reform the electoral system so that constituencies are the same size regardless of geographic area.
      We need to finally answer the West Lothian Question and that means an English Parliament which mirrors that at Holyrood. In doing this we would then end up reforming our central government – the Minister of Health would be redundant in the central government.
      The House of Lords was far better before the idiot Blair messed with it. We need to finally resolve this question and I think it should act as the Second Chamber to all the ‘federal parliaments’ too. But if you reform the HofL you must also repeal the Parliament Acts. The HofL must have the power to say no. Because of these acts the Commons has been over mighty particularly when we have lefty governments.
      Finally the Privy Council needs to be strengthened and along with that the powers of the Monarchy. The Queen acts on the advise of her ministers, but perhaps she should act on the advice of her council. That means its composition needs to be examined.

  • Colonel Mustard
    • you_kid

      Spam! (arrghh)

      • the viceroy’s gin

        …well, you and all your sockpuppets have to eat something, lad.

      • Colonel Mustard

        Imitation is the finest form of flattery…

  • Colonel Mustard

    We also need a full separation of telemachus from the Spectator.

    • Inverted Meniscus

      Please endorse this comment and rid these threads of a Labour Party trolls.

      • telemachus

        I actually sympathise
        However do you really want Mustard to control just who can and cannot post here
        That takes his existing High Sheriff role to the extreme

        • Andy

          You don’t know what a High Sheriff is, you ignorant Fascist.

          • telemachus

            One of Nicholas’ sock puppets

            • Andy

              So you don’t know you Fascist scumbag.

        • Inverted Meniscus

          No I just want you to go away and not come back. You are a Labour Troll whose only interest is in corrupting rational debate with ludicrous claims and preposterous propaganda for Fascist Labour.

      • Colonel Mustard

        Look how frightened he is people might actually do that! So he has to tag it just in case. And the control freak who tags almost every comment and is up and down every thread like a nasty rash has the audacity to refer to me as “High Sheriff”!

        Well I suppose as the Lord High Advocate of the party of lies, liars and lying he has to demonstrate his party values.

  • Smithersjones2013

    God (and everyone else) forbid! That would make Downing Street even more detached and intransigent in its callous disregard of the best interests of the people. It secures the elites position rather than making them accountable. What is needed is the exact opposite of that. Downing Street and Whitehall need to be held to account much more. What is needed is MPs being given greater power over the executive (e.g. restricting the whip) to stop all the tricks and fiddles that allow much legislation to be approved without proper Parliamentary scrutiny. No more backroom deals!

    What is needed is that political parties are forced to become more democratic thwarting the leaderships ability to hijack every issue and carry on regardless of what their memberships and the wider electorate want.

    The executive through better Parliamentary and party democracy must be made more accountable not less

    PS If this is an example of what Forsyth is thinking of:

    Reducing the number of MPs radically would mean they couldn’t be expected to be social workers.

    Then he is a complete idiot. Reducing the number of representatives not only severely diminishes the voters democratic influence but also makes the job of an autocratic leader much easier as he has fewer people to control. Representation should solely be defined by the size of population (those to be represented) and not subject to the self-serving and usually mendacious whim of the Westminster Freakshow leadership!

    • Colonel Mustard

      Spot on!

    • HookesLaw

      Easy to say that MPs should vote against the govt if it suits them but then who takes responsibility if that turns out to be wrong? Who says the ‘people’ are always right? Who is to assure us just nwhat is the will,of the people? Do MPs consult their electorate every time they vote? No. In your world MPs would just vote according to their own prejudices.
      Because of lack of action in Syria, moderate rebels have been sidelined in favour of the more extremist ones. Do the MPs who voted for that blame themselves? No.
      Countries need to be governed and we judge governments by their actions every 5 years. All you want is a leader or leadership which is shorn of the ability to lead or do anything.

      • arnoldo87

        Agree with every word, Hooky.
        But don’t let it worry you.

      • the viceroy’s gin

        I can’t believe you Camerloon nutters are still defending your moronic joining with the islamofascist murderers in Libya/Syria. It’s extraordinary.

        It does go along with your easy joining with the authoritarian socialist LibLabCon bubblesters in Londonistan, mind you

    • Tom M

      What you say can’t be denied and I agree with the tenor of it.
      My long standing complaint however is the calibre of people we elect who get sent serve in high office. All the normal jokes apart most of these wouldn’t get a job filling shelves in Sainsbury’s. That they eventually end up on the board of large companies when they leave government is entirely a function of what and who they knew in government and how this can be put to use in the company.
      An MP elected by the people to represent them is fine, democracy indeed, but there has to be some limit on what they can be allowed to touch once they have been elected.
      It just cannot be that someone who has never had any experience of a subject suddenly becomes wise enough and sufficiently well informed overnight to run a government ministry. This makes a mockery of the whole idea of government.

      • Colonel Mustard

        The Benn Red Princess, 23 and trying to win a seat so she can make laws over old Western men like me who have forgotten more than she’ll ever learn.

        • Tom M

          Quite so. I torture myself from time to time trying to imagine the conversation that encouraged a 23 year old to even consider that they had anything at all to offer in the way of running a country. Breathtaking arrogance, imagine how much more breathtaking it would be if she was actually elected. What a reflection on the thought processes of the electorate.

          • Colonel Mustard

            I suppose what they offer is an idealism hothoused in privilege and untempered by reality as an ageist sop to the bigotry of those who think the “pale, male and stale” have nothing to offer.

            Not much to celebrate there.

    • the viceroy’s gin

      One more thing to add to your magnificent analysis: The fixed-term-parliament stupefaction should be eliminated.

  • George Laird

    Dear James

    Interesting but is it workable?

    One thing about this country what they give with one hand they take away with the other.

    Still worth a run around the houses to see what others make of it.

    I think MPs did make the right decision when they voted against the government on Syria.

    Yours sincerely

    George Laird
    The Campaign for Human Rights at Glasgow University

  • telemachus

    In this week of Miliband’s renaissance, I am pleased that you remind all of this triumph of Miliband in leading MP’s in preventing us becoming embroiled in Syria

    • Smithersjones2013

      You do realise you sound just like William Joyce:

      • Colonel Mustard

        Spot on II!

      • telemachus

        But I shall not be hung
        *
        A Knighthood perhaps

      • Andy

        Well I hope he meets a similar end to William Joyce.

    • the viceroy’s gin

      Nigel Farage is responsible for avoiding the alliance with the islamofascists in Syria. The Millipede had joined the islamofascists in Libya previously, and would have done likewise in Syria absent UKIP’s pressure.

    • SimonToo

      So true, Telemachus, so true. When I queue at the Post Office, I am astonished by how strongly I feel the leadership of the stranger at the head of the queue.

  • Faceless Bureaucrat

    Not even worth discussing unless & until Britain leaves the EU.
    It is interesting that the current malaise among MPs “…that they don’t see the point of being in the Commons if they are not also in government.” wasn’t an issue until the relentless surrender of British policy and lawmaking to Brussels began ‘squeezing the windpipe’ of National Governments.
    So sad…

    • telemachus

      Most of the rules that emanate from Brussels are sound common sense
      For those that are not we have a democratic parliament in Strasbourg to reverse them

      • McRobbie

        How is this a democratic parliament when overseen by unelected and overblown jobsworths..ref ashworth , ref junckers, ref the Kinnocks, etc. There is nothing democratic about the appallingly managed european set up, it cant decide where to base its HQ thanks to petty national jealousies, so moves house every month and it cant and never has balanced its books.

        • Inverted Meniscus

          Ignore the Labour Troll. He is just a disrupter for the Labour Party. The idea is that he says something provocatively idiotic prompting howls of indignation from sensible people like yourself and thus he succeeds in destroying rational debate. There are quite a few of them on these threads all dedicated to disrupting right-of-centre opinions/ debate.

          • Colonel Mustard

            It has become blatant now. Most of his “comments” are almost spoofs of lefty lunacy.

            • HookesLaw

              Thats because he is a left loony

              • Colonel Mustard

                How come you agree with him so often then? No, don’t answer that…

              • southerner

                So are you.

            • In2minds

              “almost”?

              • Colonel Mustard

                Mea culpa…

          • telemachus

            You know we get pretty tired of such as you and Nicholas who do not entertain that there is more than one view of political events
            In the instance of my reply you will not give that there is a legitimate view that the EU is not just an economic grouping but a political force for good binding together former warring nations
            And further that the new political entity is now moving from a loose coalition of leaders to a federal country with a democratically elected parliament
            This blog has a Tory affinity and one of the most dedicated Tories Ken Clarke would echo the views of such as my humble self

            • Inverted Meniscus

              Labour Troll. Please ignore.

              • Colonel Mustard

                Wilco.

            • Andy

              Fascist piffle.

          • Kennie

            I posted a similar view earlier re telemachus on the Dave not caring about Libya blog. I stated that he was just like his former leader, gordon Brown in that, anyone who disagrees with him is branded a ‘bigot’. My post was deleted.

            • Inverted Meniscus

              Obviously a socialist nutter on duty at Disqus today.

          • Kennie

            I posted a similar view earlier re telemachus on the Dave not caring about Libya blog. I stated that he was just like his former leader, gordon Brown in that, anyone who disagrees with him is branded a ‘bigot’. My post was deleted.

        • telemachus

          The Strasbourg Parliament I grant is in a struggle with the Commission and Heads of State, including Cameron who should know better
          I happen to believe we had an election in May for a reason and we should respect the result

        • mikewaller

          Whatever its defects, it has proved a whole lot cheaper than the military form of conflict resolution that had previously bedeviled Europe for millennia.

          • the viceroy’s gin

            It’s not “cheaper” if the outcome is the rise of a socialist authoritarian blob, and the destruction of freedom and liberty forever.

            • telemachus

              But you know that is not happening and will not happen
              We have a great deal to offer the European Project in terms of democratic expertise
              We should engage and infuse this not bleat at the margins

              • the viceroy’s gin

                I know that it is happening and will eventually result in the destruction of freedom and liberty forever, which authoritarian socialist nutters like you desire as the final outcome, and I do mean final.

                • telemachus

                  No
                  My point is that we have a democratic opportunity to mould it to our wishes and needs
                  There is a left of centre majority in Strasbourg at present but Cameron could have the Tories engage and cajole as could Farage instead of berating and insulting

                • the viceroy’s gin

                  Your point is a Final Solution, as you types always seek.

                • Colonel Mustard

                  He says that he is tired of people “not entertaining that there is more than one view of political events”. He must be really tired of himself then. I’ve not known him to entertain anything beyond the parroted bigotry of the Labour party and a repulsive admiration for tyrants and tyranny.

                • Andy

                  ‘Fascist Labour Party’ – please use the proper title for that evil organisation.

            • mikewaller

              What a load of bloated tosh! I fear that with both you and the dear Colonel the image of that which you rail against has been heavily embellished by imagined defects of your devising, created for no other reason that to explain to your own satisfaction why the world has not treated you with the respect you feel you so richly deserve.

              • the viceroy’s gin

                …yes, those who disagree with the authoritarian socialist blob are just wrong because you say so. Got it, lad.

                By the way, lad, you may have missed it, but Europe remained at peace post-1945 because several hundred thousand non-Europeans planted themselves and many megatons of nukes on European soil, helped rally those Europeans who cherish freedom and liberty as their truest calling, and together they scared off the totalitarian socialists which such as you have always preferred, then as now.

                • Colonel Mustard

                  Well said. Now the threat has abated the soviet “agents of influence” and ex-CND twats have become bold in their pathetic attempts to re-write history to give themselves credit for the very thing they protested about and tried to subvert at the time.

              • Colonel Mustard

                Have no fear of that. The defects are neither embellished nor imagined and contempt of them is far from exclusive to TVG and I. From the wealth of evidence so far it also looks like the Eurocrats are the ones concerned with coercing respect by their little sashes, flag ceremonies and hiring of trolls.

          • Colonel Mustard

            Tripe. There is no evidence whatsoever that the EU has prevented conflict in Europe. Until 1989 half of Europe was in the iron grip of the soviets. Since 1989 you must have missed the terror attacks and riots in Western Europe. And that’s before we even consider Northern Ireland.

            One might think from the way you bleat about it that the EU in its present form has existed since 1945 and everything has been sweetness and light as a result.

            • mikewaller

              It really is some measure of the smallness of your mind that you think the terror attacks and riots in Western Europe are in any way comparable to the losses in the two world wars. Even with the 3000 or so from NI, I doubt that the whole lot comes anywhere near the losses in the first hour of the Battle of the Somme. I suppose small people in small times are driven to inflate the scale of events that happen to occur during their brief time on Earth. How else are they to cope with the fact of their cosmic insignificance?

              • Inverted Meniscus

                Well your comments are insignificant laddie.

              • Colonel Mustard

                Don’t think I said they were comparable did I? I didn’t “inflate” the “scale of events” either (they were something more than “events”). But you certainly belittled them.

                And you wrote about supposed conflict resolution not world wars. Perhaps you should have written that the EU has prevented any more world wars. But even that would be tripe.

                I cope with my cosmic insignificance very well thank you. Hubris and arrogance seems to be more your department.

              • the viceroy’s gin

                …and let’s not forget the recent slaughters in the Balkans, lad, and the fresh rounds of slaughter in Ukraine. Your EUSSR buddies haven’t seemed to do much with/about those, besides cause/exacerbate them.

                • mikewaller

                  Do you ever engage your brain? I have repeatedly referred to Western Europe. What has happened in the East has demonstrated with devastating clarity the horrors of purely nationalistic thinking,the key characteristic of the world to which you would have us return.

                  BTW, if there are serious thinkers out there who missed Radio 4’s BH this morning, please listen to it on i-player. There is some rubbish on it from Humphrys about English usage, but their is also a brilliant item about Putin. Not to be missed.

                • Colonel Mustard

                  Have you repeatedly referred to Western Europe? I don’t think so:-

                  “Whatever its defects, it has proved a whole lot cheaper than the military form of conflict resolution that had previously bedeviled Europe for millennia.”

                  E-U-R-O-P-E

                  I can’t be bothered to draw up a timeline comparative of conflicts “bedevilling” Western Europe, Eastern Europe and the Balkans but I would be most surprised if the former had been bedevilled as much as the latter two in the years before and during the rise of the EU.

                  Which would make your attempted justification arrant nonsense.

                • mikewaller

                  Do a bit of research. “The Balkan Question” has caused such problems over the centuries that the foolish notion you espouse of yet again breaking up into entirely independent nation states is routinely pejoratively referred to as “balkanisation”. As usual with you sad sacks, it’s no thought and back to the future.

                • Colonel Mustard

                  Did I espouse that? I don’t think I did. I haven’t espoused much beyond the fact that your claims for the EU as guarantor of peace in Europe are far fetched, which is true.

                  But your own foolish notion of an EU federal superstate didn’t do much for the Balkans anyway. The “conflict” there continued until 1995 and was not resolved by the EU but by UN and NATO intervention. So maybe you are the one who needs to do some research, eh?

                • mikewaller

                  Shall I draw it for you? In spite of a centuries long history of bloody warfare, those within the EU have not entered into military conflict since its creation. Similarly those who have joined it since the collapse of the iron curtain have similarly abjured war. However, the states beyond them, still obsessed with nation statehood and subject to the deeply malign interest of Russia have had frequent recourse to war. Perhaps the acid test cases are the components of the former Yugoslavia whose long history of killing one another has been put aside in the sure and certain knowledge that if they take it up again its good-bye EU membership. QED

                • Colonel Mustard

                  You are adding 2 and 2 to make 5.

                • SimonToo

                  We may not yet have gone to war with each other, but we have been to war a fair few times since joining.

                • the viceroy’s gin

                  Sorry, laddie, but your EUSSR buddies caused the slaughter in Ukraine, much as they encouraged the slaughter in Georgia a few years ago. When you encourage revolution and civil war, don’t be surprised when slaughter ensues.

                • mikewaller

                  Were they behind that little affair in Sarajevo in 1914?

                • the viceroy’s gin

                  …is that non-sequitur supposed to mean something, lad?

          • Inverted Meniscus

            I suspect that hundreds of thousands of American troops and their accompanying arsenal of nuclear weapons had a little more to do with keeping the peace than the EU. America is that big democracy to the left of Europe.

            • mikewaller

              When are you, Mustard and VG going to learn to think other than monodimensionally? I suspect never.

              What the Americans did for us – and every sensible European should regularly go down on their knees to thank them for it – was to stop the appalling Soviet steamroller from carrying on through to Calais.Their presence had nothing to do with the longest period of peace among the Western European nations in history. Obviously the manifest barbarism of the Soviets played big part in this – nothing like a deeply threatening common enemy to concentrate minds – but the other factor was the eventual realisation that Churchill’s “Jaw, jaw, jaw is better than war, war, war” makes an awful lot of sense. The EC is part of that jaw, jaw, jaw. Amazingly there are idiots out there who would like to return to the blood-soaked world of nation states. Unbelievable!

              • Colonel Mustard

                Why do you think that others should “learn to think” the same way as you? You accuse others of monodimensional thinking in a comment that precludes the possibility that you are wrong but more or less concedes the point anyway.

                Your concept of conflict seems to draw lines on Europe behind which you offer a smug reason for a peace that does not extend beyond them. Even before we consider the EU’s part in the events in Ukraine. You also seem completely ignorant of the history and byways of the EU, preferring a myth about what it has accomplished based on an aspiration not yet achieved.

                Extraordinary.

                • mikewaller

                  As usual you are so locked into your quaint mindset that you miss the key point. I accept that the EC is very, very far from perfect, the only trouble is, to paraphrase Churchill, the nationalistic alternatives are incomparably worse.

                • Colonel Mustard

                  My mindset is only “quaint” by your definition and I have missed no point. You attempted to justify the cost of the EU on the basis that it was responsible for ending conflict in Europe. That is simply untrue and no amount of ad hominem snobbery is going to make it true.

                  You cannot possibly assert that the “nationalistic alternatives are incomparably worse” because the nature of the EU and its development has precluded any evidence for that. It is just an assumption.

                • mikewaller

                  There has been no snobbery in my replies, merely an unwillingness to suffer fools gladly. As for want of evidence, how about millennia of bloody conflict, with the first half of the twentieth century alone adding about 100 million to the death toll.

                • Colonel Mustard

                  “There has been no snobbery in my replies, merely an unwillingness to suffer fools gladly.”

                  That’s a classic.

                  Your “evidence” is evidence of conflict not evidence that the EU has prevented its continuation, which is nonsense.

              • Inverted Meniscus

                Well you are clearly an idiot laddie so no point in being amazed.

                • mikewaller

                  In the unfortunate event that the dreary nonsense you and the other old lags on this site drag out week after week ever finding its way into a situation comedy, of one thing I am sure. Those casting the thing would curse the non-availability of the late, great Arthur Lowe to portray any one of you.

                • Colonel Mustard

                  Written with no sense of irony for the dreary socialist nonsense dragged out day after day here by telemachus for whom you curiously have no censure.

                  Instead you reduce your tenuous political argument to ageist ad hominem of a rather nasty sort which makes a mockery of the anti-conflict tenets you supposedly hold.

                • mikewaller

                  What nonsense. First, my politics are to the right; second, this kind of abuse is something I picked up from your crowd; and third, even you must be able to see that remarks – no matter how pointed – are not in the same league as the bayonet or the machine-gun.

                • Colonel Mustard

                  What crowd might that be then?

                  One does not “pick up” an inclination for ageism.

                  And belligerence is not limited to the bayonet or machine gun.

                • mikewaller

                  I am 70! Yet another thing over which you are mistaken.

                • Colonel Mustard

                  Which makes your ageist reference to old lags even more preposterous.

                • mikewaller

                  By old lags I merely meant repeated offenders!

                • Inverted Meniscus

                  You socialist nutters simply cannot stand contrary opinions can you?

                • mikewaller

                  My politics are actually to the right. It is the sheer vacuity of what you have to say that makes me respond.;

                • Inverted Meniscus

                  No lad it is because you are a sanctimonious, self admiring socialist nutter.

                • mikewaller

                  As usual, never allow the facts to get int eh way of pleasing self-delusion.

                • Inverted Meniscus

                  Says the deluded EU loving socialist nutter.

    • HookesLaw

      We have not surrendered British lawmaking to Europe.

      • Colonel Mustard

        No, ‘we’ haven’t but our wonk politicians have. Vichy thought they were still ‘in charge’ too.

    • mikewaller

      Nonsense, the passion for politics has been in decline since the 1950s with the gradual realisation that no one ideology had all the answers and that with our fast declining power and economic status, managerialism was the only possible way forward. Even Thatcherism was three parts pragmatism.

      Add to this: the “me generation” entering politics with their pathological need for attention; the large-scale Murdochisation of our media and its underlying principle that people are made for the media, not the media made for people; and the mean-minded unwillingness of the electorate to recognise that MPs need a salary set above £100,000, it is hardly surprising that the most talented give politics a miss and those few who stray in soon want to get out.

      • Colonel Mustard

        Tripe. This country is awash with overpaid, overrated, unelected wannabe “leaders” who can’t wait to tell us all what to do. Gordon Brown and New Labour created a situation where “progressives” (ha!) don’t need to venture into politics and get elected to throw their weight around. They are appointed.

Close