United Kingdom

What two Labour Women MP’s said at the “Labour Party Conference”?

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I quote the report by PA News Agency in today’s National Scot for my readers:

“Labour deputy leader Ms Rayner took aim at the Conservative prime ministers since 2010 during a joke-laden speech to close her party’s conference in Liverpool. In a bid to rally party members, Ms Rayner ran through the policy pledges made in recent days and insisted Labour would be “radical, responsible, realistic” in power.

“By contrast, she described Liz Truss’s new Government as a “ministry of all the talentless”, adding: “When I looked at the benches opposite last week, I thought the clowns had escaped the circus.

“On Mr Johnson, ousted from Number 10 after a series of scandals which included lockdown-busting events in Downing Street, Labour MP Ms Rayner said: “I do owe him one apology.

“I said he couldn’t organise a booze-up in a brewery. Turns out he could organise a booze-up pretty much anywhere, just a shame he couldn’t organise anything else.

“We’re a party with a serious plan, he had a plan for a serious party.

Taking the mickey

“I’ll miss one thing though. As inflation ran out of control, at least his jokes were one thing that got cheaper every week.“But the real problem wasn’t that his jokes were so cheap, it was that his mistakes were so expensive.

“He ended his time claiming he was forced from office by the ‘deep state’. The only deep state that forced him from office was the one he left our country in.

“Sorry conference, I had to use all my Boris lines now while he’s still remembered and while everyone knows who he is before he becomes a footnote of failure in the history books. “At least that’s what the new Prime Minister must be hoping for because he’ll be sat on the backbenches plotting his comeback, with a glint in his eye, thinking: ‘I wasn’t so bad after all was I?’

“What a sorry state of affairs.”

Ms Rayner earlier mocked Ms Truss for having “crashed the pork market”, a nod to the Prime Minister’s enthusiasm for the sector when environment secretary.

She said of the Conservatives: “Tough on crime? They brought crime to Number 10. “Defenders of the free market? The market’s in free-fall. England’s green and pleasant land? Frack it. From the party of stability to causing earthquakes. From the party of business to a slap down from the IMF. From the party of serious government to the party of parties. “Liz Truss has even crashed the pork market. Now that is a disgrace. You’d think that snouts in the trough was the one thing they could manage.”

Labour’s conference concluded with renditions of The Red Flag and Jerusalem, with Ms Rayner and Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer joining in” –unquote.

A hilarious event, it could happen only in England?

Whilst the above enthralled the Labour Conference at Liverpool, I call it another hilarious incident, that took place at a Fringe Labour Event entitled: “What’s next for Labour’s Agenda for Race,” on Monday 26 September 2022.

Ms RupaHaq, Labour M.P for Ealing Central and Acton, of Asian origin, while addressing this Fringe event was quoted by The Guardian, to have said,(about, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rt.Hon. Kwasi Kwarteng,) “he is superficial, he is a Blackman, but again he’s got more in common – he went to Eton.”

Ms Haq has since apologised direct to the Chancellor, but it has opened up a hornet’s nest. She has been suspended from the Labour Party Whip in the Commons.

Responding to the controversy, MP Haq is also reported to have told “The Guardian”: her comments were made while praising the recent ethnic diversity in Parliament. She is quoted to have commented: “Obviously, I know you can be brown and be a Tory – I’m not that stupid”.

We know there are occasions when coloured people become the scapegoat for racist remarks. Taking the mickey on native English is acceptable, but “taking the mickey, on others, is sacrosanct.”

What has happened to the British Pound?

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“Working people are paying the price of the Tory government’s casino economics. Labour will cut bills, create jobs and secure energy independence for Britain by 2030.”  ~ Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer in response to the chancellor’s mini-Budget.

When I came to Britain in 1966, the pound bought me US Dollars 2.40 and today it is at a record low against the Green Back, as early trading in markets in South East Asia, collapsed the Pound to $1.0327, the lowest since decimalisation in 1971. Luckily it regained ground to $1.07. What really happened after Black Friday? (23 September 2022).

Markets are volatile and naturally, they seem to have taken fright after what our new Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rt. Hon. KwasiKwarteng stated at the weekend that he was ready to slash taxes even further, more than the £45 Billion cuts in his Mini Budget on Friday.

Speculation was growing that the Bank of England Monetary Policy Committee might have to intervene with an emergency rate hike, sooner than expected.

Need I say, if Sterling Pound falls to parity with the US Dollar, it could trigger a rebellion among Tory backbenchers who could refuse to vote for the Government’s Finance Bill, or even submit letters of no confidence in PM Liz Truss, said the Daily Telegraph.

Labour Opposition at Party Conference in Liverpool

The Labour Party at its Annual Party Conference in Liverpool, with Parliament in recess, accused the Chancellor of “fanning the flames” of the crisis and calling the City’s regulator to investigate leaks in his Mini Budget.

Labour has challenged the “Growth Plan” in the Mini Budget. The fallout has given Labour a well-timed opportunity to lay out an alternative economic plan at its party Conference but does not want to divulge its plans, in advance of a General Election planned for 2024.

Can Labour win the next General Election?

After 12 years of Conservative Government, the public is asking this question. As it stands today according to a poll Labour is on course for a sizeable majority whenever the next General Election is called. It is increasing looking like a “Government-in-waiting,”  unless it spoils its chances.

Polls give it today a 12 point lead over the Conservatives, which would land them a comfortable Parliamentary majority, estimated at 56 seats.

What the Pound record low means for UK?

We know a consideration and delivery of measures announced in the Mini Budget will, however, create new opportunities for an innovative start-up and will help unlock private investment.

The Mini Budget announcement has envisaged an economic growth goal of 2.5 percent, before the next General election.

A Tory Grandee says the current crisis will pass. Some others have been scathing in their views. Still, others have urged colleagues to be patient and not panic.

In my view, it is like Boris, the British will always rise to the occasion, which is a trait I have learned in England.

In my view, a decrease in the wholesale price of gas will over winter make a big difference.

People cannot only be bought over with “tax cuts”?

Innovation is the mantra which is built up from a foundation of ideas and knowledge, which the Conservatives have acquired over the past 12 years in Government. This experience is priceless.

But at the same time, a weak Pound will no doubt fuel the cost of imports depending on the cost of living crisis. The Governor of the Bank of England has ruled out any emergency increase in the Bank Rate in the immediate future. That’s “cool” in the colloquial.

How the Conservatives want to play their cards when Parliament reopens will to a large extent determine the outcome of the crisis?

UK Pound Sinks, Heading to IMF Bailout

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Newly elected Prime Minister of the UK,  Liz Truss’s plan for growth, melding the biggest tax giveaway in half a century with Thatcherite deregulation, is a straight-up gamble with Britain’s future, and even before her chancellor of the exchequer had finished delivering it on Friday the bet was starting to sour, the Bloomberg has reported.

“The market’s verdict on the £220 billion policy blitz set out by Kwasi Kwarteng was swift and devastating. Sterling crashed below $1.11 for the first time since 1985, taking its slump for the year to date to 19%. Five-year gilts posted their biggest ever daily decline,” the report added.

Meanwhile, according to the reports in British media, Liz Truss’s 45bn pound tax cutting spree has set Britain on course for a bailout from the International Monetary Fund

“Nouriel Roubini, an economist who famously predicted the financial crisis, has warned that British investments are trading “like an emerging market” as he drew parallels with the economic chaos of the 1970s,” the Telegraph has reported.

“Mr Roubini said on Twitter that Britain is heading “back to the 1970s” and “eventually the need to go and beg for an IMF bailout” following huge tax cuts unveiled by Kwasi Kwarteng in his mini-Budget,” the report added.

The pound has hit an all-time low against the dollar after the bonanza of tax cuts and spending measures in Kwasi Kwarteng’s mini-budget threatened to undermine confidence in the UK.

The pound plunged nearly 5% at one point to $1.0327; it’s lowest since Britain went decimal in 1971, as belief in the UK’s economic management and assets evaporated.

Sri Lanka: Ranil to Release Some of Long-term Prisoners

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While meeting a group of overseas Sri Lankans in London President Ranil Wickremesinghe told that he intends to release some of the long-term prisoners on his return to Sri Lanka, Sri Lanka Guardian has reliably learnt.

The meeting was initiated by Sri Lanka’s High Commissioner to the United Kingdom Saroja Sirisena and held at the Sri Lanka High Commission in London.

“He wanted Presidency to do things that he could not do as Prime Minister. He got it now without people’s direct mandate. How far he can go under his calamitous holding of office is something we need to wait and see,” a Sri Lankan-born senior financial analyst residing in London who joined the meeting on an invitation told the Sri Lanka Guardian.

Final tribute to a much loved monarch

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On a day of national mourning, there was seen much pomp and symbolism. Grief was seen etched on the faces of members of the royal family as well as on the huge crowds who lined the streets of London as the coffin of H.M. Queen Elizabeth II was drawn on a gun carriage, by naval ratings from Westminster Hall to Westminster Abbey, for her final State funeral.

The invited 2000 VIP’s, Foreign Royals, Presidents, Princes, and Prime Ministers of Britain and the Commonwealth were in attendance to say a final farewell to a much loved monarch.

The most poignant scenes were witnessed when the coffin was transferred to a hearse to take the late Queen to her final resting at Windsor Castle.

The crowds that lined the route to Windsor was estimated at over 2 million on a bright and sunny afternoon, after 11 days of continuous mourning, and millions more, viewing at Westminster Hall braving the weather, which was colder at night time. The love and affection shown by the public was seen as crowds of mourners throwing yellow roses and flowers along the route to Windsor.

The Brits are a very reserved people, with a reserved sense of pride of their Queen and Country.
The Queen was a mother first of all, of 4 children, grandma to 8 grandchildren and 12 great grandchildren.

The Queen was also Head of State, not only of Great Britain & Northern Ireland, but of many countries of the Commonwealth.

As such republicans and anti-monarchists may have a bias that the Queen devoted more time to statecraft than her family? Doubtless, the matters of State took a lot of her time, but she also had quiet times with her close family, showing them by her example the burdens of selfless service.

No doubt the Queen was bound by duty and service to State, and perhaps, she did not show the personal touch with her family, but steered a very responsible role with her role as Sovereign. She reigned as Queen but never ruled. Queenship was thrust on her at a very early age of 25, when her father, King George VI died, and she ruled for 70 years with gracious majesty and dignity. Her quiet diplomacy will be cherished as her lasting legacy.

Everything the Queen did was symbolic as well as more than symbolic, with a purpose. Even though it was seen by some with mixed emotion, in parts of the U.K and abroad.

To the Americans the Queen was a symbol of regalia, a novelty, which they could never aspire. They never have forgotten that America was colonised by Britain. To the Russians, the Queen was a link with her ancestry, the Czars. She was the grandniece of Nicholas II, Russia’s last Tsar. He was a cousin of the Queen’s Grandfather, King George V. She invited spaceman Yuri Gagarin, as well as a state visit of President Vladimir Putin to Buckingham Palace. She was invited in return to Russia in October 1994, the first British monarch to set foot on Russian soil. To many colonials and black people, the Queen
enriched them a Commonwealth and an opportunity to come to Britain, like the Windrush generation of people arriving from the Caribbean in the UK between 1948 and 1971. Last, but not the least, it was the Kings and Sultans of the Arab world who had a high regard of H.M. The Queen, for her love of horses and for military hardware, which Britain supplied them.

Queen Elizabeth has departed but her legacy remains for her bountiful service to the nation, the Commonwealth and to the people in faraway lands. Today the symbol of monarchy will continue to be carried on by the work of the British Council, will continue providing scholarship to students to come and graduate in the prestige institutes of learning in Great Britain and return back to their homelands with a clamour for republicanism.

United Kingdom: Legal Basis for The Constitutional Monarchy

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Do not be fooled by constitutional theories (the ‘paper  description’)  and  formal  institutional  continuities  (‘connected  outward  sameness’)  – concentrate  instead  on  the  real  centres  of  power  and  the  practical  working  of  the  political system (‘living reality’).  Walter Bagehot (1867)

This article commences with profound appreciation of Her Majesty the late Queen Elizabeth II and her service to the Nation and concludes with every good wish for the reign of His Majesty King Charles III.

At this turning point in the history of the United Kingdom the most fundamental truth and point of clarity is that the King reigns (as head of nation) but does not rule.  This legal profundity is founded on the philosophy of John Locke ( 1632-1704) who propounded the concept of the “Moderate Monarchy” – a new political idea – that infused certain limitations of power on the Monarchy based on the principle that laws should be enacted for the common good of the citizenry.  Having introduced this approach,  Locke advocated residual powers for the sovereign, ascribing discretion to the sovereign to change or amend laws – again for the common good -a practice  now known as the Royal Prerogative. 

It is the Parliament that rules and the King is obliged to follow the advice of Parliament. The King has meetings once a month with his Privy Council – his advisory body – and approves Orders in Council that emanate from the consultations with and advice of The Privy Council.  The King also performs, with the advice of the Parliament,  several key functions such as appointing the Prime Minister and senior judges and  receiving  incoming and outgoing ambassadors. The King also signs State papers which he receives daily and conducts weekly meetings with his Prime Minister as well as other meetings regularly  with senior officials.

Additionally, the Monarch can declare war and peace; sign treaties; dissolve Parliament; confer peerages and knighthoods.

In 1689 co-rulers of England King William III and Queen Mary II signed into law the English Bill of Rights.  For the first time in English history the bill adumbrated explicit constitutional and civic rights and it is believed by many that it was the genesis of the constitutional Monarchy (where the monarch’s discretion is limited) and Parliamentary power over the Monarchy. Arguably, The English Bill of Rights greatly influenced the draughtsmen of the U.S. Bill of Rights. The English Bill of Rights came into being after the ouster of King James II who was largely considered autocratic and was subsequently ousted.  Ineluctably therefore the document identified the misdeeds of James II.  The English Bill of Rights clearly ascribed to the king or queen the exalted position of head of State but circumscribed some of his or her powers which were considered as limited by law. Some of the rights contained and embodied in The English  Bill of Rights were: freedom to elect members of Parliament, without the king or queen’s interference; freedom of speech in Parliament; freedom from royal interference with the law; freedom to petition the king; freedom to bear arms for self-defence; freedom from cruel and unusual punishment and excessive bail; freedom from taxation by royal prerogative, without the agreement of Parliament; freedom of fines and forfeitures without a trial; freedom from armies being raised during peacetimes. The English  Bill of Rights also prohibited Catholics from becoming the Monarch and required that Parliament be convened regularly.

The Monarchy was obligated to rule under the consent of Parliament, with the recognition that the people had individual rights. Therefore, it would not be incorrect to say that in the  British constitutional Monarchy, the king (or queen)  plays a largely ceremonial role. However, the monarch stands out as the symbol and inspiration of national unity and earns the respect of the local and international community as an apolitical figure.  The famous former editor of The Economist Walter Bagehot described the monarch as the “dignified part of the Constitution”.

At law, there can be no civil or criminal proceedings against the sovereign. It’s par for the course that this exemption notwithstanding, the King or Queen (as the case may be) is careful to act within the bounds of law and tradition. The genesis of this tradition arguably lies in The Magna Carta Liberatum (Great Charter) signed between King John and a group of barons in 1215 laying out the freedoms of individuals.  The document was composed of 63 Articles, one of which said the king must follow the law and could not simply rule as he wished. The Magna Carta stands as the monument of the constitutional history of England.

One of the legacies, and indeed a blessing of the Moderate Monarchy as espoused by John Locke is that between the Monarchy and parliament, these two institutions effectively preclude the infestation of insidious and invidious autocracies in the community. A corollary to the harmonious blending of the two institutions is The Rule of Law.  One of the most significant features of the majesty of the law as the queen of humanities is the elegance of the Rule of Law as the foundation of humanity.  The Rule of Law is the hallmark of democracy.  Regrettably, at the present time, the aspirations people had of equal rights and representation by the people of the people for the people have gradually  eroded into a quagmire of ambivalent populism that is shrouded in mendacious and self-serving casuistry. A whole new phenomenon called illiberal democracy has been identified by the intelligentsia as a definition of this  phenomenon. The hallmark of illiberal democracy is the ignoring by those democratically elected by the people – in many instances those that have been re-elected or reaffirmed through referenda – of constitutional limits on their power, thereby depriving their citizens of basic rights and freedom.

The Rule of Law, which is entrenched in the unwritten British Constitution reflects the quintessence of Constitutional Monarchy. To this end Lard Bingham has attempted a definition of the Rule of Law thus: “all individuals and organizations within the State, whether public or private, are bound by, and entitled to the benefit of laws prospectively promulgated and publicly administered in the courts”.  This definition can be expanded to several corollaries. Laws should be intelligible.  They should not be couched in a plethora of pages in convoluted language and expanded to hundreds of regulations.  Nor should they be orally delivered  through speeches and pronouncements.  Any written amendment to a law should be brought to the attention of the people.  A society should be governed by law and not by discretion granted to or assumed by public officials.  Additionally, they should be equally applied.  To expand further, laws should not favour a particular category of individual.  Past examples are the depravity of slavery, servanthood  and the arbitrarily perceived  inferiority of women in some jurisdictions.

It can be argued that the sustenance of the modern-day British Monarchy and its dignified relationship with the Parliament would continue to ac as a buffer against populism, illiberalism, and autocracy.

A Sri Lankan as Cabinet Minister of United Kingdom

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Who would believe that among the Cabinet members of Prime Minister Liz Truss, is a British-born Sri Lankan, Rt. Hon. Ranil Jayawardena, the charismatic constituency MP for Northeast Hampshire.

As a Sri Lankan living in England, without a British Passport, since the World Cup in June 1966, I find it is a singular honour for my country, an accomplishment of note for Ranil Jayawardena, becoming the first ever individual of Sri Lankan parentage, to be not only appointed a Cabinet Minister but hold one of the prestigious and coveted posts, as Secretary of State for Environment. Food and Rural Affairs. The Brits know we have problems back home, but have much to offer in Britain?

Ranil Jayawardena previously served as Minister for International Trade from May 2020 to September 2022 in Boris Johnson’s government. Without much publicity, I do not need to tell my readers how much he accomplished.

No one knows how much PM Liz Truss had entrusted Ranil Jayawardena, with the delicate diplomatic work of clinching trade treaties with many nations, including with Australia, when she was Secretary of Trade, prior to being promoted by Boris Johnson as Foreign Secretary. She has in my opinion, rewarded him now for his track record.

A Cabinet of the Colours of Benetton or the Commonwealth?

PM Liz Truss has entrusted and appointed four ethnic minority representatives to hold the four key posts in her Government. It is not necessarily to appease the minorities?

They are the offices of Chancellor of the Exchequer, to Rt. Hon. Kwarsi Kwarteng, of Sierra Leone, the first Black Foreign Secretary; James Cleverley, of West Indian parentage; the Home Secretary, Suella Braverman, Q.C, of Indian origin and the first Black Trade Secretary, Kemi Badenock of Nigerian parentage. Besides, we have others of foreign decent, holding well-deserved high posts, both in Government and H.M. Opposition.

It appears for the first time in the history of Parliament and Cabinet Government in the United Kingdom, we see a Government with Commonwealth representation, the “United Colors of Benetton” or a government entrusted to citizens of foreign parentage.

Why are so many Cabinet Ministers of foreign background

It is a well thought out and planned strategy for the Brits to entrust difficult assignments, for that matter “impossible tasks at times of crisis to people of foreign origin”. There is an adage that “the new colonial mindset of the Brits”, is to rely on the best available talent available in the country.

It has been tried and tested strategy in times past, that to get a job done, well and truly done or, “to make a task doable,” the most reliable way, is a search for talent, coupled with proven track record. The Brits are very good at spotting talent, and cultivate association.

People of foreign origin, have a habit of wanting “to better the British,” and they often perform impossible tasks, through sheer hard labour, knowledge and attention to detail.

I know from my experience, how foreigners work hard and how much they deliver against all odds.

I can also imagine how much Ranil Jayawardena will give of himself to prove “a point of delivering the impossible”, by sheer diplomacy.

“When the going gets tough, the tough get going” is a well-known adage

Prior to Brexit, we were told, “that Britain’s being shamed by an army of highly motivated East European immigrants willing to work long hours, according to a report published by the Home Office. Employers believe that immigrant workers are often harder working, reliable and motivated compared to their British counterparts. Have Britons lost the work ethic?” according to The Times.

That said, I know the job ahead of Prime Minister, Liz Truss is a thankless job. To be frank, even her Prime Ministerial post contestant, Rt. Hon. Rishi Sunak said: “he would go back to United States, “Silicon Valley” rather the contest his seat in Yorkshire Dales again.

What makes the Brits so confident that they will deliver now?

For those of us who have breathed the air and the tenacity of the Brits for over half a century now, the British have an innate feel when an impossible job is “do-able”?

They are so adept in getting anyone in the world to do the job, they think can be done.

Four Prime Ministers in six years in Britain?

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Talk about the changing seasons, there is no better country than Britain to change its leaders.

“Knickers to the pessimists, how about that, knickers to all who talk Britain down,” so said Boris Johnson, when he took office as Prime Minister, two and a half years ago when he replaced Theresa May in December 2019. Theresa May was preceded by David Cameron in 2016.

Parliaments are for a fixed term of five years, but it seems the electorate gets fed up with leaders as they fail to meet their expectations.

Many believe, that Boris Johnson was elected as a one-issue Brexit Prime Minister, but he not only delivered Brexit against all odds but made the capital, by rolling out COVID-19 vaccinations, which was the envy of Europe, if not the world. When the job was done, he was thought of as excess to need and booted or so it seems.

Next Prime Minister

Tomorrow 6 September 2022, Liz Truss (47 years old) who beat Rishi Sunak with 81,326 to 60,399 votes (57.1%) to claim the leadership of the Conservative Party, will be formally appointed as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom when she meets H.M. Queen Elizabeth II, this time at Balmoral, instead of Buckingham Palace, at the ceremony called “the kiss of hands” before taking office.

What the voters wanted to hear from her, she stated in her victory speech today 5 September at Queen Elizabeth Hall, London. She said: “I will deliver a bold plan to cut taxes and grow our economy. I will deliver on the energy crisis, dealing with people’s energy bills, but also dealing with the long-term issues we have on energy supply.”

The mantra “Delivery, delivery, delivery”

“I know that we will deliver. We will deliver, we will deliver, we will deliver. And we will deliver a great victory for the Conservative Party in 2024,” she stated, as she accepted the applause from her party supporters.

The British people are very cautious and resilient. It is too early to tell if Prime Minister waiting, Liz Truss has received a cautious welcome. She has inherited a raft of problems; inflation – the highest in years, energy bills spiralling, Northern Ireland and Brexit on the boil, the war in Ukraine, growing strike action in the UK, trouble everywhere?

Can Liz Truss deliver on promises, promises?
What are the options on her mind? Stability is key for a healthy economy. When it comes to resolving more than one issue, Liz Truss is adept at having a bold plan to first cut taxes, to grow the economy. Who are the people who will benefit most? The rich and the well-to-do business enterprises will benefit the most from a tax cut, while the poor and the vulnerable struggling on low wages will suffer. She is expected, to rely on and surround herself with the “Ultra Conservative” mindset, unlike Boris Johnson, to help her “deliver” by promoting high investment projects with high returns to grow the economy fast.

What are some of the projects that will get capital investment? People have already been told to invest in “Wind Farms”, and buy lands with windmills, to save on their energy bills, long-term.

Will she be promoting more privatisation, who knows? She has pledged her commitment to removing planning restrictions in an attempt to boost housebuilding, but simultaneously, abandoning the government target of building 300,000 houses a year.

The big question is who will she appoint as her Housing Minister, to deliver on her promises? There have already been 20 Housing Ministers who have come and gone since 1997, with little to show.
She is a keen supporter of “fracking” for oil and invests in Nuclear Power Energy to supplement future energy supply.

She is a keen supporter of women, herself taking on the role of Women Minister, her first Ministerial post in 2010.

What choices does she have?

When she has settled in, the first choice she will have is to decide to call a General Election to confirm her position by the electorate. But will she be constrained to plod along with her current reduced majority of 60 Conservative MP’s or wait until 2024, the planned date of the next election? Who knows?