The 'Clapometer' might just be for fun, but do our votes really count? On Friday June 5th 2009, after Caroline Flint had fallen on her hair straighteners and resigned from the Cabinet, Gordon Brown announced his emergency reshuffle. Flint had blamed the Prime Minister for treating his female colleagues as little more than 'Window Dressing', but I seem to remember recently seeing Caroline Flint draped across some DFS sofas in rather provocative poses in the Observer Magazine. The first reshuffle surprise was that Alastair Darling remained as Chancellor of the Exchequer when everybody had expected Gordon's best buddy Ed Balls to get the job. It later came to light that Alastair Darling had simply refused to move aside. It looked like the limp tail wagging the hapless dog. Looking through the list of Gordon Brown's new inner circle, five names caught my eye. The twice sacked and twice disgraced Peter Mandelson effectively becomes the second most powerful person in Government. He's promoted to Gordon Brown's defacto deputy and Alan Sugar is being brought in to support Mandelson's portfolio of industry and business. The next name that caught me eye was that of Glynis Kinnock, the wife of former leader Neil Kinnock, who will take over Caroline Flints responsibilities for Europe. Paul Drayson keeps his position as Minister for Science and the fifth name that struck me, Andrew Adonis, remains as Minister for Transport. Despite what you might think of these individuals, written in that way it all seems to be quite normal, nothing amiss and all above board. However, write those names in another way and it all seems to fly in the face of democracy and makes our individual votes seem quite pointless. Lord Mandelson, Lord Sugar, Lady Kinnock, Lord Drayson and Lord Adonis. These five Ministers are are not MP's, they are in fact all unelected members of the House of Lord's but are now making major decisions concerning the running of our democratic Country. Come to think of it, none of us ever voted for Gordon to be our Prime Minister either.
Everybody is speculating about just how long Gordon Brown can remain as party leader and the smart money seems to suggest that he'll be gone within the month. I'll stick my neck out and suggest that unless Labour suffer a major defeat in the European elections, come the next general election Gordon Brown will still be the leader of the Labour Party. If Labour MP's voted to replace him now then that would mean that we've had two consecutive Prime Ministers who were not appointed via a general election. Surely that's something that this Country just wouldn't accept. Despite anything we might think about the viability of the opposition parties, under Gordon Brown or even Alan Johnson, Labour haven't got a snowballs chance in hell of winning a general election any time soon. Thus, Labour MP's voting for a change of leader now would be akin to turkey's voting for an early Christmas. They've just lost their lucrative 'Expenses' and I'm sure that they wont vote too quickly to lose their jobs as well. Anyway, who in their right mind would want the job now?
It hasn't been the best of weeks for Gordon Brown or Labour, but then the Conservatives have very little to swagger about either. If Gordon Brown exists to make Tony Blair look competent, then he's probably doing the same thing for the Tory Party. The European election results will be announced on Sunday night and I suspect that the whiff of 'Expensegate' will do very few favours for any of the three main parties. We'll probably see a new selection of ambitious chancer's and the odd well meaning Green moving to join the European gravy train but I can hardly complain about that because I didn't actually vote. It's not that I didn't want to vote, it's just that for some strange reason we still hold our elections on Thursdays, a day when even in this current economic climate most people still go out to work. All parties complain about 'Poor Turnout', but When will they finally see the light and move our elections to a Sunday?
On a slightly funnier note, next time you hear a Labour or Conservative MP being interviewed on television or radio, see if they actually mention the term ''Expenses''. In the same way that MP's express 'Regrets' instead of 'Apologies', I've noticed that the new term for 'Expenses' seems to be ''Allowances'' ..... a different word but the same lingering stench.