Jack Straw has decided not to appeal a decision and instead the Cabinet has voted, using the power allowed it by law the law, to prevent the release of documents, for the first time since the FOI Act was passed. Y'know what? I disagree with Jennie and most Lib Dems on this. He's right to do so. We can, and should, be attacking this, but not because Cabinet minutes aren't going to be released. Cabinet minutes should not be released, it's one of the basic principles of our Parliamentary democracy. Here's how it's supposed to work:
  • The House of Commons is elected as a representative cross section of British interests and opinions
  • A Cabinet is formed representing the views of enough members of the House to command a majority
    • Appointments are made based on support within the house and talent
  • The Cabinet discusses all major aspects of policy and agrees major decisions
    • The Cabinet is bound by Collective Responsibility and do not disagree in public
    • Ministers that cannot agree to a decision at all should resign
    • If the Cabinet no longer commands the support of the House, then the government should fall
In order for this system of government to work correctly, ministers have to be able to have free, open and frank discussions within Cabinet. If after discussion is over they come to a decision that a minister personally dislikes, the minister chooses whether this is a resigning issue or not. Robin Cook chose to resign before the Iraq War started. Clare Short was given assurances by the PM and had those assurances broken, so resigned after the war.  That's the way it's supposed to work. That the Government didn't fall is not the fault of the Cabinet/Parliamentary system of government.

The problem lies not with the way this individual decision was made. The problem lies with the corrupted system that our Parliamentary democracy has become.  This is the way it actually works:
  • The House of Commons is elected using a gerrymandered system created in 1947 that encourages:
    • an unrepresentative House with a two-party duopoly
    • A predominance of white middle class men in suits
    • Safe seats allocated by party fiat in which the rebellious are penalised
    • Party loyalty over individual thinking
  • A Cabinet is formed by the party leader, made up mostly of his/her friends or political allies
    • Appointments are made based on presentational ability and sucking up
  • The Prime Minister makes most major decisions and reveals them to Cabinet
    • Groupthink is both likely and encouraged
    • Discussion and debate is discouraged
    • Ministers who disagree with the PM are aware that challenging is a threat to their career
    • Super majorities from one party mean the Majority is rarely threatened
If a precedent is set for Cabinet minutes to be revealed during a period in office, then full and frank discussion within Cabinet is threatened. That it currently doesn't happen enough is part of the problem. If we are to retain the good aspects of the British system of Goverment, we need to get rid of the corruption and the parts that aren't working. Not attack the chances of the bits that sometimes do from happening.

British politics has allowed, over the last 60 years, to become increasingly corrupt and partisan. This is a fault of the electoral system, and specifically the introduction of uniform single member constituencies and the abolition of alternative voting methods made by the Representation of the Peoples Act 1948. We need to remake and revitalise the Parliamentary system of government. For that to happen, we also need to examine how and why the Cabinet system works.

If it's decided that the Cabinet should have disagreements in public, that Collective Responsibility can be abolished, etc, then so be it. I can see arguments favouring that, especially in the new information age.

But to call for the abolishing of a fundamental feature of the British system, that has been working effectively for over 300 years, over a single, specific issue in which an abominable decision was made, is to throw out the baby with the rather murky bathwater.

Parliament voted for the Iraq war. The nation almost certainly opposed it. That is the real problem. In defending the principles of our democracy, for once in his life, Jack Straw is right.

And if you think I liked typing that last sentence you really don't know me.
So, just getting in at the end, it's March 19th, 5 years since Iraq was invaded on a false pretext without any form of legal or even moral justification that held any water. As a fairly committed liberal internationalist who was in favour of the Yugoslav interventions and had argued for an Afghan intervention a long time before most had heard of the Taliban or Bin Laden, that we spent all our well earned capitolcapital on such a stupid, badly thought out endeavour still horrifies me. Worse, it makes necessary interventions in the future harder to justify to an incredibly sceptical public. But, y'know Jennie's said all these reasons already, and if you think it's hindsitesight talking, why not go look at Robin Cook's resignation speech courtesy of Larry? Meh. Enough talk. Over to Mitch...

Happy Birthday War by Mitch Benn

Says it all really.

If you want it, loads more people are posting, details here.
After yesterdays silly petition, from the same guy is something a little more serious on YouTube--The plight of Iraqi interpreters:

Fair warning for the squemish, there is one (very brief) shot of injuries sustained, in my opinion it's worth watchin anyway, it's a set of narrated post-it notes.

Of course, not everyone agrees that the way they're being treated is despicable, Neil Clark, perhaps most well known for his belief that Slobodan Milosevic could do no wrong says Keep these quislings out, to which [livejournal.com profile] publicansdecoy responds:
this article, without a doubt, is the most disgusting, morally bankrupt piece of crap I have ever come across. Neil Clark, you are Arsehole of The Year 2007. Congratulations.
Which I feel sums up my response to Mr Clark admirably.

Petition to: offer asylum in the UK to the Iraqis who have been working as translators and in other capacities for the UK armed forces.

Sign please.
Y'know how sometimes a story is both very depressing and something that will only make you angry so you avoid following it? I haven't been folowing the Iran/Sailors thing, because, well, all sides are stretching the truth past breaking point and it'll just depress me. A few aspects were bothering me though. [livejournal.com profile] fridgemagnet (who may be a little to my left) links to two articles by [livejournal.com profile] craigmurray (who really doesn't like the current Govt but does have some knowledge of the legality). Summary:
  1. There is no legally recognised maritime boundary between Iran and Iraq
  2. Iran does not recognise the boundary that Blair is claiming
  3. The Allies know this
So, both sides are sabre rattling, both sides are obfuscating and telling porkies, both sides are playing to their domestic galleries and world opinion rather than actually being honest.

My understanding is that the event happened very close to the border Britain claims, but that that border still puts them closer to Iran than Iraq, or, as Craig puts it:
Go on, print out the map and measure it.
Everyone has an axe to grind. No one is in the right. Don't believe the hype.

I now go back to trying to ignore this story. Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose.
Letters from a US Marine to Time Magazine:
Best Chuck Norris Moment — 13 May. Bad Guys arrived at the government center in a small town to kidnap the mayor, since they have a problem with any form of government that does not include regular beheadings and women wearing burqahs. There were seven of them. As they brought the mayor out to put him in a pick-up truck to take him off to be beheaded (on video, as usual), one of the Bad Guys put down his machine gun so that he could tie the mayor's hands. The mayor took the opportunity to pick up the machine gun and drill five of the Bad Guys. The other two ran away. One of the dead Bad Guys was on our top twenty wanted list. Like they say, you can't fight City Hall.
Genius, most of them are worth a read, Steve has more here.

I was supposed to be in Exeter today. [livejournal.com profile] draich_goch rang me to remind me and make sure I was awake. I put the phone down, and fell straight back to sleep, waking again at just after 1300. I turned on the radio instead.

OTOH this and this. Um, I put the links into my links list about 2 weeks ago, but forgot to post, that's it. [livejournal.com profile] mapp commented that it had worked before anyone else had put their contribution up. That means that the Google Bomb worked from just my journal. Um, that's scary, especially given that Mark's site doesn't have that big a PR in the first place (I just checked, it doesn't have a rank at all), that's quite scary.
Brilliant:

The Roses of Success

-3.5 Mb Flash animation, very anti-war, very well done, good for American readers as well as it's not nice to Bush either.

One advantage of working late is I can use the 'net connection, if it's only me using the bandwidth then I know what the problems are.
I vary between total addiction, cold turkey and sensible use. This week I've been online too much. Ah well.

The Temple )

Stormcrow in Iraq )

Well, he survived. What has this to do with anything? Well, he's writing up his experiences and answering questions on the Temple. Read this.

I'm ambivalent about the occupation, and opposed the invasion. But the experiences of a combat soldier in action are worth reading methinks. Especially one I've been in direct contact with and would likely consider a friend ig he lived close.
This is not my first post. This is just redated so it's not at the top of my journal all the time.

I'm Mat. This is my personal journal, the fun stuff. I also write in a few other places, including Not Little England (on UK politics) and TaKtiX (about gaming).

For more about me, your best bet is to read the bio and Userinfo. This post is mostly here so I can find all the tags I use easily, it may get more useful stuff in the future. It's not a 'Friends Only' Journal, but I do filter some stuff. Oh, if you're using Internet Explorer... ) go here and get help.

My Blogs: )
[livejournal.com profile] nolittleengland   [livejournal.com profile] torbaylife    [livejournal.com profile] warhammer_tx_fd
matgb: Artwork of 19th century upper class anarchist, text: MatGB (Default)

British Liberal, house husband, school play leader and stepdad. Campaigner, atheistic feminist, amateur baker. Male.

Known to post items of interest on occasions. More likely to link to interesting stuff. Sometimes talks about stuff he's done. Occasionally posts recipes for good food. Planning to get married, at some point. Enjoying life in Yorkshire.

Likes comments. Especially likes links. Loves to know where people came from and what they were looking for. Mostly posts everything publicly. Sometimes doesn't. Hi.

Mat Bowles

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October 2015

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Stuff and nonsense

I'm the Chair of the Brighouse branch of the Liberal Democrats & the membership secretary for Calderdale Lib Dems and run the web campaign for the local candidates. I have a job, a stepdaughter and a life.

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