Tuesday, 13 June 2017

Will Sinn Fein take their seats? Will a working class lesbian be Britain's next Conservative Prime Minister?


There is speculation that the seven Sinn Fein MPs may for the first time ever take their seats. It's probably unlikely since, even if they did, the Tories and DUP would still have a majority, though a much smaller one.

However if the Tories lose two or three by-elections to Labour SF would be stupid, from their point of view, not to. After all, Jeremy Corbyn has backed them since the early 1980s. But it would mean them swearing this oath which has hitherto deterred them beginning 99 years ago, when the first Sinn Fein MPs were elected and formed a rebel parliament.

I do swear that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, her heirs and successors, according to law. So help me God.

It reminds me of when James Callaghan's government faced defeat in in a vote of confidence.

Frank McGuire surprised everyone by saying said that he intended to attend. Frank McGuire

was the semi-legendary Independent MP for Fermanagh and South Tyrone. He kept a bar in his constituency called Frank's Bar. His decision was remarkable because though he had taken the oath and his seat (unlike Sinn Fein Members) he had only attended the House a handful of times since his election. Few knew who he was.

He was flown over in a Wessex helicopter and sat on the opposition benches, ignored by the other MPs who did not know who he was. As they went through the division lobby at last he was left alone in the chamber. The Labour Chief Whip went up to him and said,

'Frank, are you not going to vote?'

'No, I came to abstain in person.'

The government lost the division by one vote, McGuire's. The government fell, an election was called and Mrs. Thatcher became Prime Minister. The rest, as they say, is history. Who now remembers James Callaghan?

Ruth Davidson, the Scottish Conservative leader, saved the Conservatives, the country, the Union and Brexit. I am not sure what sort of a Tory she is, though. This article from the Times about her as the 'stop Boris' candidate, is interesting.

"Having only joined the party eight years ago, Davidson is not tribal in her politics — she tweeted last week that her commitment to equal opportunities was more important to her than any loyalty to her party."

How telling of how far Britain is moving away from parliamentary government that someone who had never sat in either house of parliament is now spoken of as a contender to be Prime Minister.

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