Thinking the unthinkable

Imagine the following scenario.

Labour (or the Conservatives) lose the general election.

Gordon Brown (or David Cameron) resigns as party leader.

With much of the rest of their frontbench team also discredited, the party elects a non-MP – the (ex) Mayor of London – as its leader.

A sitting MP then resigns so the new party leader can stand in a by-election for Parliament.

With me so far?

Now imagine that in the by-election the other main parties do not put up candidates but rather give the new party leader a free pass into Parliament.

Pretty unthinkable, isn’t it?

Yet curiously that’s just what political tradition in Canada dictates. Not only is it common enough for new party leaders to come from outside the existing ranks of MPs for their to be a tradition of how to treat them, but it is also common for the main parties to give new leaders a free pass to Parliament.

If you look through the electoral and Parliamentary rules, Canada is in many ways very similar to the UK. Both are Parliamentary democracies for a start. Yet whatever the rules and structures say, political culture makes – in this respect – for a massively different system. What is common in one country is unthinkable in another.

Is there any lesson in all this? Perhaps. When talking about Parliamentary reform, we often concentrated overwhelmingly on the details of what the rules say. But that isn’t the only thing which shapes how the system works.

Read more by or more about .
This entry was posted in Parliament.
Advert

3 Comments

  • Antony Hook Antony Hook 20th Mar '10 - 3:26pm

    I think Jean Chretien was not a sitting MP when he became Liberal leader and shortly afterwards became Prime Minister from 1993 to about 2005.

    Although he had been an MP in the 70s and 80s if I recall correctly.

Post a Comment

Lib Dem Voice welcomes comments from everyone but we ask you to be polite, to be on topic and to be who you say you are. You can read our comments policy in full here. Please respect it and all readers of the site.

If you are a member of the party, you can have the Lib Dem Logo appear next to your comments to show this. You must be registered for our forum and can then login on this public site with the same username and password.

To have your photo next to your comment please signup your email address with Gravatar.

Your email is never published. Required fields are marked *

*
*
Please complete the name of this site, Liberal Democrat ...?

Advert



Recent Comments

    No recent comment found.