mannerisms

Ruminations on the electronics industry from David Manners, Senior Components Editor on Electronics Weekly.

Euro Dog’s Breakfast

It’s typical of the Europeans to devise a political structure which produces sillier and sillier results with each election it holds.

If only the the English had set up the European constitution, there might, by now, be a federal European political system which commanded respect and did some good.

The European constitution is all skew-whiff because the Continentals ignored the English principle of separating the powers of the executive, the legislature and the judiciary.

In the European constitition the executive, represented by the Commissioners, has all the power; the legislature, or parliament, has no power; and the judiciary appears to be an undistinguished tool of the executive.

People soon suss out if a body is powerless and then they treat it with contempt. Since the European parliament was established, fewer and fewer people have bothered to vote in its elections for membership.

The result of this public indifference is that the Euro MEPs who get elected are becoming increasingly maverick, eccentric and marginal.

The European parliament  now has 17 members dedicated to getting the UK out of Europe – the UKIP guys – plus a Swedish representative of the Pirate Party, dedicated to legalising file sharing and outlawing digital rights management, a couple of members of the British National Party which is anti-immigrant, and the odds and sods of various European right wing loony parties.

Adding to public contempt  is the ludicrous exes system under which every  Euro-MP gets some £3,500 in non-accountable exes paid into their bank account every week, to pay for office and staff expenses.

That comes on top of an £80,000 salary plus  many other opportunities to fiddle even more expenses. The effect is to disgust the public. So they ignore it, and increasingly spurn the Euro electrions.

Adding to the unseemly farce is the two-seat parliament where the parliament shuttles between Strasbourg and Brussels at vast expense, and the disgraceful fact that no accountant has signed off on  the EU accounts for 20 years.

This is not democracy, it’s a corrupt kleptocracy. It could be dismissed as an amusing example of the Continentals’ political ineptitude, if it weren’t such a worry that weak, corrupt, European government will sap Europe’s strength, competitiveness and liberty.

Tags: british national party, constitition, european parliament, pirate party, shuttles

Related Tech News

6 Comments

  1. David Manners
    June 12, 2009 07:35

    El Rupester, I think the Americans would concede that they got the idea from England. And however the practice of separation of powers has been debauched in the UK by Maggie, TB, et al it remains the underlying principle of British constituional law. And while 1976 may not seem recent to you, in a parliamentary system which has lasted some 740 years, 1976 is pretty recent. It’s a trifle eccentric to say Europe is better when the Euro parliament is impotent, and the Euro judiciary, as you yourself say, is almost non-existent.

  2. El Rupester
    June 12, 2009 00:05

    David
    I’m afraid DWL is right and you are 180degrees wrong
    You said “the English principle of separating the powers of the executive, the legislature and the judiciary” — that is the American principle.
    In contrast, in England we have “the elected dictatorship” which integrates executive, legislature & judiciary all under the service of one PM. That is not a recent change: the phrase is Lord Hailsham in 1976. Lots of people said Maggie was unusually powerful, and Blair continued her legacy.
    If anything, Europe is better: Parliament as legislature is separate from Commission as Executive. And there isn’t really Judiciary – that is mostly done by nations. (The ECJ is so separe it isn’t part of EU!)
    There is a democratic deficit in Europe. But the painful dilemma is that this is because national governments do not want to cede any power or legitimacy to a stronger EU Parliament.
    (The same tension applies if UK should have an elected second chamber – would that diminish role of Commons?)

  3. David Manners
    June 11, 2009 15:30

    Sadly, DWL, you are right. But only recently are you right. I think T.Blair had a lot to do with diminishing the power of parliament by reducing the time for scrutiny and debate of legislation. He also tried to reduce the independence of the judiciary by trying to abolish the Lord Chancellorship. But Blair tried to debauch most of the things he touched. On one point I would differ – only 12 judges (out of some 5,000) sit in the Lords. The UK Constitution works OK if the country’s leaderrs respect it. Even in World War II, even Churchill answered to the House of Commons and recognised that was where ultimate power lay.

  4. DWL
    June 11, 2009 15:07

    Eh?! The UK ‘constitution’ (if it can be called that), is one of the most top-heavy systems of Government in the world.
    In fact we have a ‘Concentration of Powers’.
    Government (Executive) ministers sit in and exercise total control over the the legislature (Commons/Lords).
    Government (Executive) ministers propose most of the legislation and timetabling for discussion in the legislature.
    Senior Judges sit in the Legislature (Lords).
    The whole operates on the concept of the ‘Crown in Parliament’ which means that the Executive exercises the powers of the Head of State however it pleases.
    The Head of State has no choice and no role but to smile serenely; read out the loyal address once a year; to ‘advise, caution, and warn’, oh, and remember to put out the corgi food.
    The whipping system, controlled by the executive, ensures that the representatives remain supine by a mixture of patronage (the payroll vote) and downright threat.
    Vast amounts of money are provided by the executive to sustain a quango state which is barely scrutinised by the representatives.
    The representatives themselves have mostly given up; and are busier ensuring that they are claiming for the correct number of duck islands and kit kats.
    If you want to see a real Separation of Powers, you need to look to America; their Constitution was incidentally designed on the English and French Enlightenment principles.
    But we shouldn’t kid ourselves that we have separation of powers here. Arguably Britain is closer to becoming a dictatorship than many other countries.

  5. David Manners
    June 11, 2009 13:47

    Touche, Continental, Your point is taken. But one nevertheless does feel that you guys tend to favour political systems which concentrate power at the top, rather than following the principle of separating power between various institutions which has worked OK over here for 700 years (with hiccups)
    PS. Your MPs fiddle more than our MPs.

  6. Continental
    June 11, 2009 12:17

    “an amusing example of the Continentals’ political ineptitude”
    Of course lessons provided recently by British MPs are much more instructive…

Share your knowledge - Leave a comment