Today I don’t know what to say, which is not much use coming from a journalist. Hats off to those who are vigorously live-blogging the Trump inauguration and tweeting every twist of this turbulent day. I’m watching, quietly, listening to the burbling of the US networks and marvelling at the spectacle. It is actually happening… they’re making him President.
One thought, before I formulate something hopefully coherent later for my weekly newsletter for Reaction (sign up here).
And that one initial thought it is this. Hurrah for the British parliamentary system. It makes the election of a Donald Trump figure in the UK impossible, short of an armed insurrection, or a zombie apocalypse.
A friend said to me recently that we are surely headed for a celebrity Prime Minister (Lord Sugar? Piers Morgan?). No, not unless we change our system. Parliament is not perfect, but is our solid defence against the horrors of a Morgan premiership.
For all the talk in the US of the genius of the Founding Fathers, and the use of checks and balances, the arcane British system is superior. It does it by requiring people to get elected to the House of Commons first. Yes, some ministers get into government via the Lords, but the major offices of state and the vast majority of ministerial posts are drawn from the Commons. Then, MPs are tested and the parties choose leaders. The public at an election then chooses a party in their constituency, factoring in whether or not they think the leader of a particular political party is a muppet or not. The monarch then invites the winner of the election to form a government. If the leader later loses a vote of no confidence in the Commons they are stuffed. There is no such coherent defence in the Presidential system. If there was, Donald Trump would not be President. He is President.
We moan about MPs and the Commons a lot. Today I have rarely felt more well-disposed towards our parliamentary system.
That is all.