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fighting executive dominance « Previous | |Next »
November 10, 2005

I see that the British Parliament has exerted its power and stood firm. The House of Commons has said no to the executive dominance of the Blair Government. The Guardian says:

The House of Commons yesterday secured a great victory for good government by inflicting a great defeat on a key section of the Labour government's bad bill. Last night's 31-vote majority against the government's 90-day detention before charge proposal in the anti-terror bill was an even more emphatic rejection than most observers had predicted. It came in spite of a huge and sustained government whipping effort, in spite of a humiliating effort to drag ministers back from all corners of the globe, in spite of the prime minister putting his authority on the line...

And Tony Blair?

Martin Rowson

The Guardian says that:

Mr Blair, though, has been weakened. There is no gainsaying both the seriousness and symbolism of this first defeat in eight-and-a-half years of Blair rule. More than 60 Labour MPs defied a three-line whip on the 90-day clause by either voting against it or abstaining. Up to 10% of Labour MPs now seem to be in semi-permanent opposition to everything that Mr Blair does. That does not make Mr Blair's position untenable. But it makes his position more fragile than ever before. It marks a new era in this government's history. It will have to choose more often now between compromise and defeat. Mr Blair needs to listen to parliament's voice.

Blair is a dead man walking. His authority has been shredded by his own party. The Labor Party is turning against its very successful leader and it could slowly tear Blair down on his domestic modernizing reforms.

It is not likely that the assertion of parliamentary power and voice against John Howard will happen in Australia.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 7:36 PM | | Comments (4)


So why is party discipline in the Australian Liberal and Labor parties so absolute? Australian Labor was the first to develop a caucus, which promoted party unity, and organization, that the Liberals/UAP had to match. So is it a case of an Australian arms race in terms of discipline between the two parties that traces itself back to the early 1900s when Labor developed a caucus?

As I understand it a number of Liberals crossed the floor under Malcolm Fraser in the 1970s--especially the Senators.

It is not accepted now under Howard. Maybe because he is more conciliatory to dissent within his own ranks and endeavours to take their concerns on board--enough to stop them crossing the floor.

Then again the social liberals are slowly being weeded out through pre-selection by the conservatives.

Gary, Cant recall where I read it, and cant produce a quote, so take with a grain of salt, but I recall reading that Howard thought the disunity (I guess the crossing the floor) under Fraser was damaging to the public perception of the government and didnt want to do the same.

I'd read the same. But he has dissension in his ranks---social liberals and some Nationals.