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MH 17 and Russia 2018

The shooting down of airliner MH17 over Ukrainian airspace was a tragedy – but more likely arising from the cock-up rather than the conspiracy wing of history. Surely no-one seriously thinks that the powers behind either side in the Ukraine fighting intended their minions to shoot down a passenger aircraft? It was clearly done by a trigger-happy clown not subject to much in the way of discipline or command and control as in a regular army. Unfortunately this sort of thing happens in civil conflicts.

The consensus that it was “Russian” rebels who did it is probably correct. That they ought not to have had the weapons to allow them to do it is also a given. But I suspect that Vladimir Putin is raging that it has put him – as the overwhelmingly likely ultimate source of the arms involved – in the wrong. One more reason for the US and EU to portray him as a villain and to increase sanctions.

Yet, unless it blows up into something bigger – in the hundredth anniversary year of the devastating fall-out of an assassination in the Balkans that prospect cannot be overlooked – in four year’s time will most people, apart from the families of the deceased for whom it will linger forever, remember it? Very few gave a toss about the contretemps Russia had had with Georgia in 2008 during the Sochi Winter Olympics earlier this year.

Yet we have our Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg, calling for the World Cup due to be hosted by Russia in 2018 to be stripped from that country. I wish him luck with that. The site of World Cups is in the purview of FIFA and that organisation doesn’t take kindly to outside interference.

What makes his remarks even more counter-productive in terms of his stated objective is that Clegg has said that England might host the tournament instead. Anyone who had any knowledge of FIFA at all would know that is a non-starter.

Twonk.

Unelected?

No British voter elects a Prime Minister. Neither do we elect a government.

All we vote for – all we ever vote for – in UK General Elections is a representative, a single member of Parliament.

I have voted in nine General Elections and have yet to find a question on the ballot paper asking me who(m) do I wish to be Prime Minister – or indeed whom I wish to be in government.

The only person who can be said to “vote” for the Prime Minister is the monarch – at present the Queen – who invites an MP to form a government (albeit usually on advice from the outgoing PM.) This is true whether that invited MP can “command” a majority in the House of Commons or not. It is Parliament (a word, by the way, derived from French and meaning, almost literally, talking shop) which decides whether a government exists or not; as only the House of Commons can vote a government down.

In this regard I find the complaints that Gordon Brown was an unelected PM to be strange, even ignorant – if not deliberately mischievous. He was as elected – or unelected – as Tony Blair, John Major, Margaret Thatcher, James Callaghan, Harold Wilson, Edward Heath, Alec Douglas Home, Harold MacMillan etc. etc. before him.

Every Member of Parliament has been elected, except, in days past, for the Speaker, whom convention required to be unopposed – and he or she could not become PM. UKIP and others are, I believe standing against John Bercow on May 6th. Michael Martin had some opposition too last time as I recall.

In the 2005 General Election Gordon Brown’s name certainly appeared on my ballot paper. To call him unelected was a distortion of the truth, at best. It subsumes into the term only those closed electorates which may choose a political party’s leader. Not being a member of any of them I was not consulted when those parties made their respective choices so in that respect, but in that respect alone, they were/are all unelected. As has been every Prime Minister in my – and anybody else’s – lifetime.

Still, if Mr Irresponsible or even that inoffensive Mr Clegg become PM after next Thursday I may take some delight in dubbing them unelected.

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