UK trade minister resigns after threatening member of public

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2020/05/04/uk-trade-minister-resigns-afte.html

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Glad to see someone in power leave after being caught violating ethical standards. So-called leaders in the U.S. refuse to leave office, use the courts to pressure and/or silence accusers (or victims), and make the public pay if there’s some financial or legal benefit to being removed vs. resigning.

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Inherited privilege endangers the public.

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But what’s the fun having power if you are not allowed to abuse it?

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Thwarted again, Smithers!

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While what you say is true, this is a different use of the word privilege.

Parliamentary privilege is a principle common to many legislative bodies whereby legislators cannot be prosecuted for certain activities if done in their role as a legislator. The exact extent of those activities covered varies from one system to the next, but the reasoning behind it is so the courts cannot be used to prevent legislators from freely conducting their legislative role. It’s a privilege (literally private law) permitted legislators with the expectation that they not abuse it for personal gain, as this particular douchecanoe did.

That said, Burns, though not a Lord himself, did vote against reforming the House of Lords to be mostly elected, and is himself from a well-off family that’s privileged in the sense you meant. So like most conservatives he is an advocate and beneficiary of inherited privilege. But that was not the sense in which the word was used in this context.

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Dear GulliverFoyle,

Thank you for the reply. The privilege that I referred to was the general and inherited privilege that Burns enjoys being “from a well off family”. His (cavalier) influence peddling , on his father’s behalf, is what endangers this member of the public.

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If all members of Congress would actually resign for violating ethics standards, we’d have a whole lot of new faces by next week. https://www.govtrack.us/misconduct lists the official violations, and there are a lot.

However, nobody’s taken out the leadership responsible for running the impeachment hearings as a show trial, for blocking a legitimate Supreme Court appointment, or for any of the other evil deals that have been struck in the last few years. Expulsion needs to start at the top.

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Are you referring to the successful blocking of Garland and blanket refusal to vote on any of President Obama’s Supreme Court nominations, or the failed attempt to hold Kavanaugh accountable for the accusations against him?

I think you meant the former, but just wanted to request clarification.

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He’s still an MP, just no longer a minister. The punishment is suspension from Parliament for a few days, but he’ll still be paid a fortune to loyally vote the way the Conservative whips tell him to vote.

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Likewise. And thank you for your clarification. :slightly_smiling_face:

But I also appreciate the friendly mild confusion, as IMHO it contributes to a constructive communication.

To add to the comment by @MikeR, resigning as a British MP is weird. An MP can’t actually resign by law, traditionally it was an obligation rather than an honour, and the only way you can leave before your term is up is to take an “office of profit under the crown” which disqualifies you from being an MP as it is a conflict of interests.

MPs who want to leave office become the crown steward of either the Manor of Northstead or the Chiltern Hundreds, positions that hold no power anymore but still mean that you can not be an MP. There were some problems with this a few years back when Gerry Adams wanted to resign, but he refused to take the position on principle as he is an Irish republican and refuses to swear allegiance to the crown. Now the interpretation of law is that you can’t be an MP if you are offered a crown office rather than actually taking it.

The current Steward of the Manor of Northstead is John Bercow and the steward of the Chiltern Hundreds is John Mann.

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