Who gets to vote on Britain’s next prime minister?

What’s the news from Britain? Well, the race for leadership of the Conservative Party–and incidentally of the country–is now down to two people, Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss. The winner will be decided by something like 160,000 members of the Conservative Party, 97% of them white, half of them over sixty, and most of them male. While we’re at it, a hefty number are from southern England. 

That’s based on the 2019 count. Statisticians tried to do a complete count but fell asleep before they could complete their work. 

What’s the population of Britain? Something in the neighborhood of 67 million. I’d give you a link to prove it but I fell asleep too. 

So yes, it’s all very democratic and representative and so forth. 

I can hardly wait to see what happens next.

Irrelevant photo: a hydrangea

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In other uplifting political news, the Nottinghamshire police and crime commissioner won her position (it’s an elected post) by promising to crack down on speeding, then went on to get caught speeding five times in twelve weeks, two of them near a primary school. She’s lost her license for six months and was fined £2,450. 

She asked to keep her license because losing it would cause her exceptional hardship, to which the judge did not say, “Are you kidding me?” 

Sh hasn’t said whether she’ll resign but it won’t surprise you to learn that she’s been asked.

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In what’s probably an unrelated story, wild European bison are roaming the country for the first time in 6,000 years. Three females were released in Kent this month and a male is set to join them in August, as soon as he gets through the backup at Heathrow’s passport control. 

I’m not sure how the three get to be the first in Britain, since one of them came from a herd in Scotland, but maybe it’s because they’re roaming in the woods as opposed to, um, you know, taking the tram up and down Princes Street in Edinburgh.

Listen, I don’t understand this stuff, I just report it. What does seem comprehensible is that they’re expected to strip the bark off of trees, thinning the forest canopy, creating paths, collecting seeds (bison like seeds), planting wildflowers, and generally rearranging the ecosystem and transforming the woods “into a lush, thriving, biodiverse environment once more.” Which will allow the trust that owns the land “to step back from hands-on management.”

I did say the bison were wild, right? 

I did, but what that means depends on how you define wild. They have tracking collars and are now fenced in a five-hectare area, which will eventually increase to two hundred hectares. But, yeah, within that, they’re wild as hell. 

They’ll soon be joined by ponies from Exmoor and iron-age pigs.

What’s an iron-age pig? For starters, it’s older than anyone you or I know.

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It turns out that if you switch off a neighborhood’s streetlights between midnight and 5 a.m., it will cut down on the number of things that get stolen from cars. By almost 50%. And crime overall will fall by 25%.

Why’s that? Because it’s hard to see. 

The bad news is that both will increase in nearby neighborhoods. 

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Have I slagged off the government enough lately? Sorry, I let myself get distracted.

Boris Johnson and Rishi Sunak (who now hate each other but used to work together and played nice in front of the TV cameras) spent £2.9 billion on the Restart program, a mandatory program that was supposed to get the long-term unemployed back to work. A mandatory program, meaning if you were referred to it you had to go. Because, hey, we’re trying to help you here.

How well did it work? Oh, gorgeously. Some 93% of its participants didn’t find work. That gives us with–wait, I need to consult Lord Google to be sure I get this right–a 7% success rate. 

It did, however, transfer a lot of money to the private contractors it was farmed out to. 

By way of accuracy, the program cost £2.9 billion in the headline but more than £2.5 billion in the text. Why the difference? Dunno, but even I will admit that £2.9 billion is more than £2.5 billion.

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No summary of the news would be complete without this one: A retired Church of England vicar was fined and added to the list of sex offenders after a member of the public (“who was attending a talk about Asperger’s syndrome) found him in church naked except for a pair of stockings and performing a sex act with a vacuum cleaner.

You thought you’d heard it all? Silly you. Human sexuality is infinite. You can never hear it all.

It’s true that this particular vacuum cleaner has a name–not the individual vacuum but the brand. They’re called Henry. All of them. And they have a face painted on the side. So it might be easier to personify them than it is your average back-of-the-mop-cupboard vacuum cleaner. But then, I could be misunderstanding the situation completely.

The newspaper article I stole this from notes that the vicar had, before this, a clean record. As he would, given his inclinations. 

 

But enough about Britain. What’s happening elsewhere?

Well, around the world, at any given time, one out of six people will have a headache.Maybe it’s why more people aren’t having sex with vacuum cleaners.

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According to a study in Japan, decisive people are no more likely to make the right choices than people who are full of doubt. 

“What we found is that confidence was the only thing that was different,” said the study’s first author, whose name is the Japanese equivalent of Smith: Zajkowski.

Hesitant people of the world, unite. 

Or not. You might want to think about it before you jump in. 

*

A Belgian virologist and government Covid advisor, Marc Van Ranst, was threatened by an air force officer who got his hands on a submachine gun and four anti-tank missile launchers.

But that’s not our story. The story is that the head of an anti-vax group, who is not so incidentally a dance teacher, publicly said something approving about the death threat.

“When there’s a salsa pandemic,” the virologist tweeted, “I’ll listen to you with great pleasure. But at this moment, I don’t give a flying fuck what you have to say and nobody in the Netherlands should either.”

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In the US, Republican Senatorial candidate Herschel Walker impressed the hell out of everyone by explaining the climate change problem this way: “Since we don’t control the air, our good air decided to float over to China’s bad air. So when China gets our good air, their bad air got to move. So it moves over to our good air space. Then — now we got we to clean that back up.”

I can’t swear to it, but I think the shift from general incoherence to total incoherence there at the end is the actual quote, not a typo. 

Here’s what he had to say about gun control after the Uvalde shooting:

“Cain killed Abel and that’s a problem that we have. What we need to do is look into how we can stop those things. You know, you talked about doing a disinformation — what about getting a department that can look at young men that’s looking at women that’s looking at their social media. What about doing that? Looking into things like that and we can stop that that way. But yet they want to just continue to talk about taking away your constitutional rights. And I think there’s more things we need to look into. This has been happening for years and the way we stop it is putting money into the mental health field, by putting money into other departments rather than departments that want to take away your rights.”

There you go. A problem understood is a problem halfway solved. 

 

And a bit of history

Benjamin Franklin deliberately misspelled Pennsylvania when he printed the colony’s currency.And not just one wrong way but three different ones: Pensilvania, Pennsilvania, and Pensylvania. 

The state seems to have survived his efforts.

The plan was to foil counterfeiters, or so it’s generally believed.

39 thoughts on “Who gets to vote on Britain’s next prime minister?

  1. We don’t elect Prime Ministers: they’re not presidents. We don’t even elect parties. We only elect Members of Parliament for our constituency: that is the system. All parties choose their leaders by election by members. Gordon Brown wasn’t elected at all: no-one stood against him. And everyone is free to join any or all political parties of their choice, if they want a say.

    Liked by 1 person

      • I’d like to see it overhauled. The MP for my constituency changed parties. There’s no law against doing that, as we elect a person rather than a party, but it means that the constituency now has a Labour MP when we elected a Conservative MP. He should have done the decent thing, resign and force a by-election, but politicians aren’t very good at doing the decent thing!

        Liked by 2 people

        • The whole party apparatus, both in Britain and in the US, seem to have been paste-ons to the political systems that were already established. We could probably do some enjoyable and futile speculation about how a system could be designed differently if it took parties into account from the beginning.

          Like

          • Didn’t George Washington hate the whole idea of parties? The system here made a lot more sense in the days when things were more regional – a local MP would back policies which benefited the economy in their particular area … which I suppose is exactly how the US came to have a party system from the start. We had court and country factions, and then Whigs and Tories in the years leading up to the Glorious Revolution, but organised parties only really date from the mid 19th century. Which is still quite a long time. MPs who change parties really do annoy me. It’s happened a lot over the last 10 years. A lot of it was due to Labour MPs wanting to get away from the evil Corbyn, which I understand, but changing parties should still mean a by election.

            Liked by 1 person

            • Oddly enough, I don’t know a lot about the formation of US political parties. US history is so badly taught in the schools that I can’t claim to know a lot about it at all except for the bits that interested me enough to do my own reading. So I’m going to pass on that one.

              I don’t want to open up an argument about it, but I like Corbyn, and I don’t think he’s any more antisemitic than I am. I do see your point about MPs switching parties, since it’s a far more fundamental shift than it would be in the US.

              Liked by 2 people

              • George Washington didn’t like the idea of parties, but some people wanted the states to have more power and others wanted the Federal government to have more power, which was the same argument still going on when most of the Southern states seceded, and I suppose is still the same argument now going on over abortion law.

                Liked by 1 person

              • I think I just put my response in the wrong place, commenting on my own comment instead of yours. Which means I also hit Like on my own comment.

                It’s been that kind of day–but we have, at least, gotten a bit of rain. Not much, but I’ll settle for anything just now.

                Liked by 1 person

              • The debate over states’ rights has–certainly in my lifetime and I believe throughout US history–has always been a high-minded cover for the southern brand of racism. (The north has its own brand, but it’s not as stark.) From what I’ve been reading lately, the abortion debate has its roots in states’ rights and racism, but abortion made a more appealing issue. If the Supreme Court ruled that the Constitution forbids abortion, watch everyone change sides on states’ rights. It’s too abstract an issue to be what anybody really cares about.

                Like

            • >Didn’t George Washington hate the whole idea of parties?

              I followed this up once, and unfortunately it turns out that mostly he didn’t like _opposition_ parties.

              Liked by 2 people

    • The presidentialisation is indeed disturbing. If I had my way, the Prime Minister’s oath of office would include the words ‘I was not elected to this position, and do not have a mandate from the people.’

      Liked by 1 person

    • He’s not a senator yet, but from what I read they’re tossing as many people off the Georgia voting register, so he may get elected in spite of everything. However, with that said, we do have our uses, and at the moment it seems to be making the rest of the world feel good about themselves.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Ah, Herschel Walker. One of the greatest American football college running backs ever to play the game (in the 1980s). But I think all those years of being tackled by 300 pound linemen must have messed with his thinking cap.
    It is difficult to be an extremely conservative black man in Georgia (I used to live in rural Georgia). However, he’s got a huge base. How do I say this delicately….there’s a lot of rural Georgians, who would cross the road to avoid sharing the same sidewalk with an African-American, that are blindly voting for him because he is “the great Herschel Walker “

    Liked by 1 person

    • I think the Republican Party thought they could dilute Rev. Warnock’s appeal by running a Black man. Presumably they didn’t listen to what they had on their hands–or else (and this is not unlikely) they didn’t care.

      Like

  3. So much to unpack here…Is there some chance you could get BoJo back as PM ? Trump is still leading in many polls.
    Pretty sure Elizabeth has the HerschelWalker phenomenon nailed down.
    And how is the new Covud virus variant and the monkeypox coming along ? We are having more of each over here. Stay safe.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sigh. Of course Johnson could come back. Unless someone drives a stake through his heart. Although the slow machinery of an investigation about whether he lied to parliament about the parties he was having may yet lead to him being suspended or deleted as an MP, triggering an out-of-season election in his constituency, in which he’d have to fight for his own seat. That’d be fun.

      I’m not sure what would disqualify him from becoming prime minister again. The rules limiting who can be an MP are (I just read) less restrictive than those on who can become a local councilor.

      I’ve got some articles on the new Covid variants stacked up and will do a post on it–um, eventually. The monkeypox phenomenon is interesting but, I think, less threatening (or at least threatening on a narrower scale) and I haven’t been following it closely. I hope I don’t look back and regret that.

      Liked by 1 person

      • It depends whether or not he wants to. Tony Blair and David Cameron are both raking in fortunes from making speeches at events, and that doesn’t get a lot of publicity so they don’t get the social media abuse which high profile politicians do. Pre-Covid, a lot of it was in Hong Kong and Singapore, but it may have changed now. Boris, whatever his faults, is a great speaker, so he could go down that road, with or without applying for the Chiltern Hundreds … probably without, because I think he wants to remain as an MP.

        Liked by 1 person

        • My best guess (based on limited knowledge and a wild hunch) is that Johnson doesn’t exist without attention–social media, newspaper, radio, TV, whatever. So quiet isn’t likely to be his preferred route.

          Like

    • I’m not all that sure we should be relieved. On the positive side, it makes us all feel slightly less crazy, but on the negative side it makes us all feel slightly less crazy just when we need to remember how abnormal all of this is.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. The early debates were quite something to behold. I was waiting for boxing gloves or – at the very least, those big foam things on sticks – to be broken out, so they could have at each other physically. But the horrifying seems likely to happen and we’ll get a female BoJo clone to cause havoc for the next 2 years.

    Thank you for including some of the crazy from elsewhere, it makes me feel less bad. And the bison on trams image is one to cherish :D

    Liked by 1 person

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