The Scotsman - Top Stories - Speaker rebukes Blair: THE Prime Minister has been ordered to appear before MPs to explain the impact of the constitutional changes created by last week's botched Cabinet reshuffle. Amid further fall-out from the disastrous shake-up, Tony Blair was told by Michael Martin, the Speaker, to make a statement to the Commons tomorrow, outlining why he decided to scrap the role of the Lord Chancellor after 1,400 years.
Yes, I should think he might be asked to explain himself, in that case. As part of that government "reshuffle", among other proposals, Blair proposes to create a British supreme court, which would absorb the function of the Law Lords as the court of last resort in Britain.
If I understand what I've been reading, to make such changes actually is within his purview as prime minister, very technically speaking (or to propose that the Commons and Lords do so, in some cases -- although it's rather difficult to imagine that the Lords would go along with the abolition of the Law Lords); it's simply that prime ministers never EVER do such things. (Well, clearly, since the office of lord chancellor and the Law Lords are so very old.) Apparently this is part of his attempt to reform Britain's public sector. It would seem to have started rather badly. (Although, watching what is happening in the US, he does seem to be entirely correct about the Right wanting "to demolish the very ethos on which [public services] are built." One wonders if his pal George and the Republicans have been serving as a peculiar sort of object lesson.)
Blair has also been accused of not consulting the queen about abolishing a 1,400 year old office. Mind, I'm not entirely sure why it matters whether he did or not -- her assent doesn't seem to be required for very much. Nonetheless, it would seem spectacularly politically unwise.
If he wanted to distract from what's turning into a very problematic inquiry over Iraq, I suppose he's succeeded, up to a point. Mind, adding one scandal on top of another would not normally be a sensible way to proceed, and I should think that many more such successes will see him out of office rather quickly.Posted by iain at June 17, 2003 12:55 PM