April 08, 2019

Horse 2528 - Two Constitutional Quirks: Or - Everything Is Going Wrong But At Least We Are Playing By The Proper Rules

This blog post has been brought to you by Chaos. Try Chaos today. If you are having a lovely but boring time and want to add some unnecessary drama and confusion to your life, simply add a spot of Chaos and watch common sense and reason fly out of the window. See the results. Just look at the United Kingdom and Australia. Ask your legislators if Chaos is right for you¹.

This blog post is like twenty-four hour Araldite in that it comes in two parts.

Quirk 1:
The first of these constitutional quirks is arguably the more important of the two as it has the potential to directly affect legislation which changes the United Kingdom for a very long time.

The House of Lords as the upper house of the parliament at Westminster, as the model for all of her children as the mother of parliaments, except in the area of the budget, has the power to turn down legislation that has been proposed by the House of Commons.
As an unelected legislative body, this is arguably better than what we have in Australia because it means that the Lords are not beholden to the knavery of party politics and can rise above it all; it is also arguably worse than what we have in Australia because it is an unelected and undemocratic institution.
Precisely because it is unelected, the House of Lords tends to be unhurried in its deliberations and doesn't have points of order. This means that it takes its time; which given the intricacies of legislation, can end up positively glacial.

Various members of the House of Lords have during this past week indicated that they would be amenable to holding up a hard Brexit, a soft Brexit, a spam spam spam Brexit with sausage and eggs and spam Brexit, indefinitely. There wouldn't be a thing that the House of Commons could do about it either. In theory the House of Lords could delay whatever Brexit deal was passed by the House of Commons until the inevitable heat death of the universe, which means to say that even in the event of complete annihilation of the everything, there still wouldn't be anarchy.  Naturally this would attract the ire of the Crown who could order the House of Lords to sit but even the Crown doesn't have the power to make it act. The Crown could dissolve parliament and bring the term of the House of Commons to an end but the Lords are something else².
There are also moves in the House of Lords to put it to the Crown that the Queen should use her royal prerogative and refuse to give royal assent to any hard Brexit, soft Brexit, spam spam spam Brexit with sausage and eggs and spam Brexit, that the Houses of Commons and Lords pass; in the greater interest of her United Kingdom. This has been met with both very hard stares and low murmers, which in the House of Lords is the equivalent of swearing bloody blue murder and crying 'havoc' to let slip the dogs of war. The royal prerogative to refuse assent to legislation has happened so rarely that it always warrants a page in the annals of history; which Brexit already most indubitably has already secured.

Quirk 2:
The other constitutional quirk which has arisen but this time in Australia has to do with the calling of the Federal Election. People often forget that in Australia it is actually the states who decide the manner by which Senators are sent to parliament. It is the states who technically call elections for the Senate and not the Prime Minister of the day.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison has until 11:59pm tonight to decide whether or not he wants to hold the election on either May 11 or May 18; because if he does nothing, then the Senate election will have to take place on May 18 regardless of what the Prime Minister thinks. Governors of at least two states from what I can gather have already indicated that they will make the announcement for the May 18 election this week, if Mr Morrison fails to act.

It could very well be that having just suffered yet another Newspoll defeat (bringing the current losing streak to 51), that Mr Morrison wants to decouple the Senate election from the House of Representatives election, which he is perfectly entitled to do; in which case, the term of the House of Representatives runs all the way out to November 2nd as the last possible date for the election.
Maybe it makes sense for Mr Morrison to decouple the elections and hope that a favourable Senate is returned because at least that way, the Morrison Government can steal the Opposition's lunch with regards to policy and if they get a three point dead cat bounce, will be returned to government. As at time of writing though, the total time to decide on an either/or case for May 11 or 18 is just sixteen hours.

¹Chaos may cause political instability, blood letting, knives in the back³, change of head, legislative constipation, anal leakage, and in extreme cases the involuntary dismissal of government.
²The Crown is itself an unelected and undemocratic institution; which is traditionally replaced through the act of swording.
³Ms May has already indicated that she will resign depending on various outcomes of Brexit. It is hard to say whether or not she has been stabbed in the back if at the same time she has fallen on her sword. 

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