Sunday, January 11, 2009

New Year in UK Parliament

On Monday, the UK Parliament returns from its holiday break.  In no particular order, here some stories that we will we watching to see how they develop.

1.  Gordon Brown and the Financial Crisis.  When the financial crisis hit back in the fall, Gordon Brown was at the nadir of his young premiership and the Conservatives maintained a large lead in the polls.  There were even rumblings of a Labour rebellion to oust Brown.  Once the crisis hit, Brown used his experience as Chancellor of the Exchequer to take decisive action and Brown's standing in the polls has steadily risen.  It remains to be seen if Brown's actions will work or if the global crisis will eventually put a drag on Labour's popularity.  Brown will announce on  Monday a 500,000,000 pound jobs program to deal with long terms unemployment and to stave off a larger recession.

2.  The government would like to build a 3rd runway at Heathrow Airport to reduce congestion.  A cross party group, including Labour rebels, are trying to force a debate and a vote in the Commons on this proposal.  Action on a 3rd runway could happen this week.

3.  Gordon Brown brought Peter Mandelson(now Lord Mandelson) back into the cabinet to be Business Minister.  One of Mandelson's first plans is for a semi-privatization of Royal Mail.  John Prescott, who was Tony Blair's deputy, is firmly opposed to the plan and is starting to lead a rebellion against it.  I believe this may be a sign of a struggle for the Soul of the Labour Party between the old trade unionists like Prescott and the New Labour Blairites. 

4.  Tory Leader David Cameron will soon be making changes to his shadow cabinet.  One possible move is to bring former Chancellor Kenneth Clarke into the Shadow Cabinet to possibly shadow Lord Mendelson with some type of trade and industry portfolio.  However, Tories who disagree with Clake's positions on Europe are saying that his appointment might split the party.

5.  After the arrest of a Tory shadow minister for soliciting civil servants for classified information and a raid on the shadow minister's Westminster office there are questions about Speaker the House Michael Martin's ability to carry out his duties.  Watch closely to see how the fallout from Scotland Yard's raid affects the Commons.

6.  Will Brown call an early election?  A UK general election is not scheduled until 2010.  The question is will Brown feel that his actions during the financial crisis have strengthened his popularity with the electorate enough to call an early election. 

Here are some links to to help you follow the UK Parliament:

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