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post #1 of 38 (permalink) Old November 14th, 2005, 14:31 Thread Starter
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Bastin - a question on voting in Britain

Bastin,

I know I could probably google this, but I'm lazy and know that you'll know the answer. When did the British public start electing representatives/MPs to Parliament?

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post #2 of 38 (permalink) Old November 14th, 2005, 15:38
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Natalya, I think there already is an official "Ask Bastin" thread.

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post #3 of 38 (permalink) Old November 14th, 2005, 16:00
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Define 'public'. If by 'public' you mean a large percentage of the population, the answer can be short, as the date falls after 1801. Possible dates include 1832, 1867, 1884, 1918, 1928, or 1969. If by it, you mean any part of the population (as opposed to formation of the legislature by appointment), there are different dates for England, Scotland, and Ireland.

In England, the Model Parliament was established in 1295 by Edward I (the greatest monarch of all time, as everyone knows). This unicameral legislature (separated in 1376) included members of the clergy and aristocracy, but, more importantly, 2 knights sent from each county and 2 burgesses sent from each borough. From 1430, the county electorates were standardised to include all people owning land on which £2 of land tax was paid (£2 being 40s, the term '40 shilling freehold' emerged). Thanks to inflation and economic growth, those electorate subsequently increased gradually over the next 400 years. However, boroughs were free to set their own rules; some boroughs allowed all freeholders to vote, others had wealth restrictions, others didn't allow any votes, and some had no inhabitants. Ironically, probably the most democratic were the university seats, which allowed all graduates of Cambridge of Oxford to vote.

In Scotland, it's far more messy, with the introduction of knights in dribs and drabs. Scottish representation was difficult to establish in the earlier years, due to the hazy constitutional situation, and ties to, and dominance by, the Kingdom of England. After Balliol's rebellion, representation was increased dramatically to cover burghs and territories in much the same way as England was represented.

Due to incomplete government (i.e. English) control, Ireland's parliament had very few powers (reflected in its decision, in 1494, to vote itself to become dependent upon the English Parliament). Its electorate included all non-Gaelicised freeholders in English lands, which, whilst making it the least democratic of the three bodies, made it the one that extended furthest down the social ladder.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Humbird
Natalya, I think there already is an official "Ask Bastin" thread.
I demand stickiness!

Glen: "That last post of Bastin's is just too authoritative to argue against."

gOD: "It scares the f*ck out of me but I'm with Bastin here."

Cacìni: "Ah, there you go using that absurd über-memory of your's...not fair."

Boyo: "Even when it comes to rap, Bastin is an authority."

Attila_the_Nun: "A most respected scion of Misty Albion, the illustious Bastin - the redoubtable defender of all our noble traditions."

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post #4 of 38 (permalink) Old November 14th, 2005, 16:51 Thread Starter
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So we had PMs elected by the mass population after 1801 rather than by appointment?

Out beyond ideas
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there is a field.
I'll meet you there.
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post #5 of 38 (permalink) Old November 14th, 2005, 16:54
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No. We've never had elected PMs. HM Queen Elizabeth II alone has appointed 2 British PMs against the will of Parliament (Douglas-Home in 1963 and Harold Wilson in 1974).

Glen: "That last post of Bastin's is just too authoritative to argue against."

gOD: "It scares the f*ck out of me but I'm with Bastin here."

Cacìni: "Ah, there you go using that absurd über-memory of your's...not fair."

Boyo: "Even when it comes to rap, Bastin is an authority."

Attila_the_Nun: "A most respected scion of Misty Albion, the illustious Bastin - the redoubtable defender of all our noble traditions."

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post #6 of 38 (permalink) Old November 14th, 2005, 17:03 Thread Starter
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Bastin, you know what I mean - when the leader of the party who gains the "majority" (and I use this term losely for reasons summed up by the 2005 election) of the population who QE11 then "appoints" as PM which happens 99% of the time (exempting 1963 and 1974).

Out beyond ideas
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there is a field.
I'll meet you there.
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Mahmoud Darwish
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post #7 of 38 (permalink) Old November 14th, 2005, 17:14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Natalya
Bastin, you know what I mean - when the leader of the party who gains the "majority" (and I use this term losely for reasons summed up by the 2005 election) of the population who QE11 then "appoints" as PM which happens 99% of the time (exempting 1963 and 1974).
No, I really don't know what you mean. I, too, shall use it loosely, to illustrate this point; all those instances where both the Monarch and the House of Commons agree shall be classifed as instances in which the House of Commons decided.

Going further back in time, Winston Churchill (1945), Ramsay MacDonald (1931), Stanley Baldwin (1924), and David Lloyd George (1916) were all appointed against the will of the House of Commons. Thus, in the 20th Century, of the 26 Prime Ministerial stints (counting Churchill, Baldwin, and MacDonald three times each and Wilson twice), six were against the will of the House of Commons. Of the 19 PMs of the 20th Century, 7 of them relied upon the Monarch's favour over the House of Commons' (Marquess of Salisbury having been appointed against the Commons' will in 1885). 12 out of 19 is not 99%.

Glen: "That last post of Bastin's is just too authoritative to argue against."

gOD: "It scares the f*ck out of me but I'm with Bastin here."

Cacìni: "Ah, there you go using that absurd über-memory of your's...not fair."

Boyo: "Even when it comes to rap, Bastin is an authority."

Attila_the_Nun: "A most respected scion of Misty Albion, the illustious Bastin - the redoubtable defender of all our noble traditions."

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post #8 of 38 (permalink) Old November 15th, 2005, 14:32 Thread Starter
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Ok, let me put it another way - when did we have our first elections in which the male population took part in?

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I'll meet you there.
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post #9 of 38 (permalink) Old November 15th, 2005, 16:32
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bastin
No, I really don't know what you mean. I, too, shall use it loosely, to illustrate this point; all those instances where both the Monarch and the House of Commons agree shall be classifed as instances in which the House of Commons decided.

Going further back in time, Winston Churchill (1945), Ramsay MacDonald (1931), Stanley Baldwin (1924), and David Lloyd George (1916) were all appointed against the will of the House of Commons. Thus, in the 20th Century, of the 26 Prime Ministerial stints (counting Churchill, Baldwin, and MacDonald three times each and Wilson twice), six were against the will of the House of Commons. Of the 19 PMs of the 20th Century, 7 of them relied upon the Monarch's favour over the House of Commons' (Marquess of Salisbury having been appointed against the Commons' will in 1885). 12 out of 19 is not 99%.
Whilst a PM might have been appointed agaisnt the will of the Commons, if this was the case then a vote of no confidence will have brought the PM down.

I am somewaht perplexed at the Stanley Baldwin statement above - he took over PM in 1923 and won a landslide in 1924.

The 1916, 1931 and 1945 (pre Atlee) PMs were nominated at times of crisis and the normal rules of engagement were postponed.
In 1974, the Queen as in all other elections will ask the leader of the largest party, Labour in this instance 301 - 297 seats to try and form a government. If Labour failed, it would have been put to Heath to try and form a government.

So to say she appointed Wilson against the will of the House of Commons is not correct.
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post #10 of 38 (permalink) Old November 15th, 2005, 18:27
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Quote:
Originally Posted by panicos
Whilst a PM might have been appointed agaisnt the will of the Commons, if this was the case then a vote of no confidence will have brought the PM down.
A vote of no confidence doesn't necessarily bring a government down. It merely shows one part of Parliament (the Crown) that another (the House of Commons) doesn't like the choice of ministry.
Quote:
Originally Posted by panicos
I am somewaht perplexed at the Stanley Baldwin statement above - he took over PM in 1923 and won a landslide in 1924.
You're right; it should have been 1923. In 1923, the majority of Conservative MPs wanted Lord Curzon to be PM. George V chose Baldwin over Curzon on political grounds. George V's insistence that there could be greater confidence in an untested MP than in a proven peer was over-ruled by HM Queen Elizabeth II's decision to appoint whomever HM wanted, in 1963.
Quote:
Originally Posted by panicos
The 1916, 1931 and 1945 (pre Atlee) PMs were nominated at times of crisis and the normal rules of engagement were postponed.
The 'normal rules' dictate that our governments are picked by Royal Designation. All that changed in those years was the public's loss of appetite for objection to those rules.
Quote:
Originally Posted by panicos
In 1974, the Queen as in all other elections will ask the leader of the largest party, Labour in this instance 301 - 297 seats to try and form a government. If Labour failed, it would have been put to Heath to try and form a government.

So to say she appointed Wilson against the will of the House of Commons is not correct.
Together, Conservatives and Ulster Unionists (having been part of the party until the month before, and still affiliated unti 1985) had 304, whilst Labour had 301. Thus, the Conservatives were the natural choice for government. Moreover, the Conservatives were a lot more likely to form a coalition with the Liberals than Labour were.

HM chose Harold Wilson as PM with the implicit aims of forming a proper Labour party policy on Europe and preventing the Conservatives from conceding any ground on Sunningdale to the United Ulster Unionist Council in exchange for support. Neither of those objectives could be construed as being in the interest of the House of Commons.

Glen: "That last post of Bastin's is just too authoritative to argue against."

gOD: "It scares the f*ck out of me but I'm with Bastin here."

Cacìni: "Ah, there you go using that absurd über-memory of your's...not fair."

Boyo: "Even when it comes to rap, Bastin is an authority."

Attila_the_Nun: "A most respected scion of Misty Albion, the illustious Bastin - the redoubtable defender of all our noble traditions."

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post #11 of 38 (permalink) Old November 15th, 2005, 18:28
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Natalya
Ok, let me put it another way - when did we have our first elections in which the male population took part in?
1295.

Glen: "That last post of Bastin's is just too authoritative to argue against."

gOD: "It scares the f*ck out of me but I'm with Bastin here."

Cacìni: "Ah, there you go using that absurd über-memory of your's...not fair."

Boyo: "Even when it comes to rap, Bastin is an authority."

Attila_the_Nun: "A most respected scion of Misty Albion, the illustious Bastin - the redoubtable defender of all our noble traditions."

Humbird: "Bastin is very attractive when talking nautical! "
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post #12 of 38 (permalink) Old November 15th, 2005, 23:13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bastin
A vote of no confidence doesn't necessarily bring a government down. It merely shows one part of Parliament (the Crown) that another (the House of Commons) doesn't like the choice of ministry.
A vote of no confidence does not bring the government down, but if a government is unable to command a majority in the Commins, then it will not be able to pass is legislative programe, thus making itself redundant. The PM at that point has not option than to seek the dissolution of parliament.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Bastin
Together, Conservatives and Ulster Unionists (having been part of the party until the month before, and still affiliated unti 1985) had 304, whilst Labour had 301. Thus, the Conservatives were the natural choice for government. Moreover, the Conservatives were a lot more likely to form a coalition with the Liberals than Labour were.

HM chose Harold Wilson as PM with the implicit aims of forming a proper Labour party policy on Europe and preventing the Conservatives from conceding any ground on Sunningdale to the United Ulster Unionist Council in exchange for support. Neither of those objectives could be construed as being in the interest of the House of Commons.
Whilst there might have been a loose affiliation between the Ulster Unionists and the Conservatives, they fought the election as seperate parties. the results of the 1974 election made Labour the biggest party.

Whilst we do not have a written constitution, the Monarch will ask the leader of the largest party to try to form a government first. If they fail the task will fall to the leader of the second largest party.
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post #13 of 38 (permalink) Old November 15th, 2005, 23:30
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Quote:
Originally Posted by panicos
A vote of no confidence does not bring the government down, but if a government is unable to command a majority in the Commins, then it will not be able to pass is legislative programe, thus making itself redundant. The PM at that point has not option than to seek the dissolution of parliament.
To pass a bill, it has to be given Royal Assent. Do that not necessitate that the confidence of the Monarch is just as important as the confidence of the House of Commons? Ditto the House of Lords until 1911.
Quote:
Originally Posted by panicos
Whilst there might have been a loose affiliation between the Ulster Unionists and the Conservatives, they fought the election as seperate parties. the results of the 1974 election made Labour the biggest party.
Loose affiliation? The election was in February 1974, and the Ulster Unionists were part of the Conservative Party until January 1974! They were simply Conservatives that disagreed with Sunningdale, and, for all other intents and purposes, were Conservative MPs. To an extent, the same is true of the Vanguard (3 seats in Feb 1974), who had been in the Conservative Party until 1973.
Quote:
Originally Posted by panicos
Whilst we do not have a written constitution, the Monarch will ask the leader of the largest party to try to form a government first. If they fail the task will fall to the leader of the second largest party.
Whilst we have no codified constitution, the PM is chosen by Royal Designation. The Monarch picks whichever candidate is best for the country. Of course, the leader of the majority party is the most likely to be picked, since he or she has the support of one of the three branches of Parliament (and one of the two necessary branches for legislative purposes). As the long list of exceptions to the majoritarian rule suggests, the Monarch cannot be forced to pick anyone by anyone.

Glen: "That last post of Bastin's is just too authoritative to argue against."

gOD: "It scares the f*ck out of me but I'm with Bastin here."

Cacìni: "Ah, there you go using that absurd über-memory of your's...not fair."

Boyo: "Even when it comes to rap, Bastin is an authority."

Attila_the_Nun: "A most respected scion of Misty Albion, the illustious Bastin - the redoubtable defender of all our noble traditions."

Humbird: "Bastin is very attractive when talking nautical! "
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post #14 of 38 (permalink) Old November 15th, 2005, 23:36
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The Ulster Unionists took the Conservative Whip until 1972, thereafter they refused the whip and acted a de facto independent party severing all links with the Conservatives in 1975.

By standing as a seperate party they were no longer counted as being at one with the Conservatives.
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post #15 of 38 (permalink) Old November 15th, 2005, 23:41
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bastin
To pass a bill, it has to be given Royal Assent. Do that not necessitate that the confidence of the Monarch is just as important as the confidence of the House of Commons? Ditto the House of Lords until 1911.
The Royal Assent given to any Bill is mere formality, no Monarch will refuse the Assen. Any other action by the Monarchy will create a constitutional crisis and probalby the end of the Monarchy.

Whether the monarch agrees or not with the government, they have no say in the matter. Indeed, it can be said that the Monarchy will seek the Government's advice on matters ie the marriage of Charles to Camilla and the abdication of Edward VII.
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post #16 of 38 (permalink) Old November 15th, 2005, 23:46
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Quote:
Originally Posted by panicos
The Ulster Unionists took the Conservative Whip until 1972, thereafter they refused the whip and acted a de facto independent party severing all links with the Conservatives in 1975.
Not true. They dropped the Conservative whip over Northern Irish issues upon the abolition of the Northern Irish Parliament, but continued with the Conservatives for UK-wide issues until just before the election. They severed all links only in 1985, after the Anglo-Irish Agreement.
Quote:
Originally Posted by panicos
By standing as a seperate party they were no longer counted as being at one with the Conservatives.
Standing as separate parties, as a technicality, has never changed anything. Labour/Co-operative MPs are counted under the Labour Party, whilst Scottish Unionists were always counted with the Conservatives. Under any system of counting actual political power in the House of Commons, the Conservatives were the plurality party.

Glen: "That last post of Bastin's is just too authoritative to argue against."

gOD: "It scares the f*ck out of me but I'm with Bastin here."

Cacìni: "Ah, there you go using that absurd über-memory of your's...not fair."

Boyo: "Even when it comes to rap, Bastin is an authority."

Attila_the_Nun: "A most respected scion of Misty Albion, the illustious Bastin - the redoubtable defender of all our noble traditions."

Humbird: "Bastin is very attractive when talking nautical! "
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post #17 of 38 (permalink) Old November 15th, 2005, 23:52
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Quote:
Originally Posted by panicos
The Royal Assent given to any Bill is mere formality, no Monarch will refuse the Assen. Any other action by the Monarchy will create a constitutional crisis and probalby the end of the Monarchy.

Whether the monarch agrees or not with the government, they have no say in the matter. Indeed, it can be said that the Monarchy will seek the Government's advice on matters ie the marriage of Charles to Camilla and the abdication of Edward VII.
Not true. In 1937, King George VI refused Royal Assent to a bill in Alberta. In 1997, the Prince of Liechenstein refused Royal Assent, and the resulting "constitutional crisis" resulted, not in him losing power, but in him increasing the powers at his disposal. Closer to home, in 1999, HM the Queen refused Royal Consent (not quite Assent) to the Military Action Against Iraq (Pariamentary Approval) Bill. That probably didn't even make the newspapers, never mind lead to republican revolution.

Glen: "That last post of Bastin's is just too authoritative to argue against."

gOD: "It scares the f*ck out of me but I'm with Bastin here."

Cacìni: "Ah, there you go using that absurd über-memory of your's...not fair."

Boyo: "Even when it comes to rap, Bastin is an authority."

Attila_the_Nun: "A most respected scion of Misty Albion, the illustious Bastin - the redoubtable defender of all our noble traditions."

Humbird: "Bastin is very attractive when talking nautical! "
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post #18 of 38 (permalink) Old November 16th, 2005, 01:03
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That signature says it all, Bastie.

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post #19 of 38 (permalink) Old November 16th, 2005, 01:09
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Bastin, do you really believe that if the Monarch started refusing bills passed by parliament as she pleased that she would last very long? Liechtenstein is a poor example, since it is a ministate.

Quote:
In 1937, King George VI refused Royal Assent to a bill in Alberta.
It was not King George but rather Lieutenant Governor John Bowen (I doubt King George even knew about the bill at the time "he" refused assent - not to mention that since the 1920s, the links between representatives of the Crown in Canada and the Crown itself are in effect nothing but ceremony) and for a rather mundane reason: the province passed legislation which infringed on the jurisdiction of the federal government and was unconstitutional (this was later confirmed by the courts).

Had the Lt. Governor not vetoed the bill, someone would have taken the bill to court (well it was taken to court anyway). If the UK parliament were to pass an uncostitutional bill, I'm sure no one would object to the Queen refusing to sign it, but I don't think that's exactly what panicos had in mind.
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post #20 of 38 (permalink) Old November 16th, 2005, 09:43
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In the UK Parliament is sovereign. The Monarchy will never refuse Royal Assent.
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