Weekly insights into our crazy world.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010



Did you hear the BIG news on Tuesday out of London? Well, lemme tell you! There's a brand new PRIME MINISTER on No. 10 DOWNING STREET! Ladies and Gentleman, let me proudly introduce DAVID CAMERON and his gorgeous young wife SAMANTHA. His family has been in English politics for centuries. His Great-Great-Great-Great-Great Grandfather was William the fourth. He the Queen's fifth cousin, twice removed. Anyhow, recent elections tilted Parliament from Labour to Conservative. Lame Duck PM GORDON BROWN resigned after a turbulent three years. Mr. Cameron, head of the Conservative Party was appointed to the post. Got it?

Don't feel bad: Many Americans don't understand the Parliamentary system of government. The main differences between ours and theirs is how leaders are elected and the length of time one serves. Prime Minsters are not directly elected by the people. Rather, a governing body (Congress...Parliament...Supreme Soviet, etc.) decides who will lead. They also decide how long. In fact, anytime an MP (Member of Parliament) desires, he or she, can motion to remove a PM. Hence, some PMs serve decades and others months. The longest serving PM was SIR ROBERT WALPOLE who held the office for a whopping 21 years. The shortest term was the (not so) HONOURABLE GEORGE CANNING you lasted a mere three months. Think about it: In the US, we are stuck with our leader until they die or resign. (sorry, Dick Nixon!)

However, there is concern in the UK that the old system dying out. Globally, it is currently in fashion to have ONE person representing a nation. That way, at the press conference for the G-8 summit or the group photo at the NATO convention, you can easily spot your man or woman.(ANGELA MERKEL). In the UK, there seems to be a need for a more presidential Prime Minister. Prior to these Parliamentary elections...for the first time ever...a televised debate was held between Brown, Cameron and third party candidate Nick Clegg. Even though British citizens still don't directly vote an individual, the lines between candidate and political party are becoming less apparent. (But don't expect any two-year-three-ringed-circuses like the US PRESIDENTIAL ELECTIONS any time soon.)

Finally, there is one advantage of being a PRIME MINISTER over being a PRESIDENT: You can stay in office as long as Parliament thinks you are doing a good job. So it's not surprising that the most successful PMs also held office the longest. WILLIAM PITT THE YOUNGER (Yes..the namesake of Pittsburgh) held sway for 19 years. Also in the 'Top Ten of Tenure' are Prime Ministers MARGARET THATCHER and TONY BLAIR. Poor GORDON BROWN is ranked 34th. Anyhow, the question for today is: How will DAVID CAMERON end up ranked? Only time will tell.

But...good luck...mate! It's a jolly good time to be a WORLD LEADER!

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