Michael Barone
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But it has only started to reverse Brown's steady expansion of the public sector that created jobs for thousands of coordinators, facilitators and liaisons. Some of them may have improved the operations of government. But one suspects that the public would be able to get on perfectly well without most of them.

At least Britain is not imitating the "austerity" policies of most European governments, which consist more of tax increases than spending cuts. But they have not embraced the deep spending cuts that Canada and Sweden made in the 1990s, which helped those two nations to weather the international recession much better than other advanced nations.

British politics was roiled this week by the coalition's proposals, pushed by the Lib Dems, to make the House of Lords an elective chamber, filled by politicians elected for single 15-year terms. But a large enough number of Conservative backbenchers defied party whips that the coalition leaders had to withdraw a procedural motion necessary to pass the proposal.

The current House of Lords, under Blair's 1999 reforms, is made up of distinguished members who can amend and delay legislation, but do not threaten the primacy of the elected House of Commons. Conservative rebels feared an elective Lords would do so, and without the accountability to voters inherent in a legislature whose members, for the most part, expect to face the voters again.

The Lib Dems hoped that an elective upper chamber, chosen by proportional representation, would give them a perpetual veto on public policy despite the fact that they are heavily outvoted by the two major parties. They tried earlier to get proportional representation in the House of Commons, but that was defeated soundly in a referendum in spring 2011.

No one thinks the Lib Dems dare to bring down the government and force an election. The Queen's Diamond Jubilee last month was a British triumph, and the Olympics look likely to be another. But the British coalition government seems to be just muddling through.

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Michael Barone

Michael Barone, senior political analyst for The Washington Examiner (www.washingtonexaminer.com), is a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, a Fox News Channel contributor and a co-author of The Almanac of American Politics. To find out more about Michael Barone, and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com. COPYRIGHT 2011 THE WASHINGTON EXAMINER. DISTRIBUTED BY CREATORS.COM