Chris Moore on The Heave and Gordon Brown

Historian Christopher Moore famously approves of “the heave,” the parliamentary convention, or practice, which allows members of a party’s parliamentary caucus to depose their leader, to give him or her the heave-ho. In Moore’s opinion, the practice is preferable to selection of the leader at a party convention, because it curbs prime ministerial high handedness.

Thus he says in a recent blog:

“… surely the Labour Party caucus would have removed Gordon Brown from the leadership before the election. Now, days after he goes to the electorate as party leader, he decides he will step down. The party will not have a leader until next September, and that leader will not be accountable to the Labour MPs just selected by the voters.

“Poor Britain. What’s happening there is not the Americanization of the political process but its Canadianization. It used to be that Canada was the only parliamentary democracy dominated by autocratic leaders chosen by self-selected mobs in arenas, accountable to no one, and always staying on far beyond their time. Now we see the same situation in Britain.

“British Labour, it’s true, has long been somewhat Canadianized in this regard. Extra-parliamentary factors have long had some influence on leadership selection… resulting in a long run of unelectable leaders (Michael Foot, Neil Kinnock, Gordon Brown) and the occasional charismatic tyrant (Tony Blair). But now it’s taken over the whole system.” (Christopher Moore’s History News, May 11, 2010)

And here’s Moore on Warren Kinsella’s suggestion that Mr. Harper kick Senator Nancy Ruth out of the caucus:

“Where does this crazy notion come from, that leaders kicking people out of caucus is a good idea? In functioning parliamentary systems, party leaders are part of caucus and subject to its discipline just as other caucus members. The idea of party leaders as unaccountable dictators free to end the career of parliamentarians not slavishly loyal to them personally is anti-parliament, anti-democratic, and deeply dangerous. Nothing is more worth encouraging than the freedom of parliamentarians to say unpopular, inconvenient, even foolish things, free of censorship by the party Central Committee and its spin doctors.

“… nothing damages Canadian political life more than the rarely challenged assumption of Canadian party apparatchiks that the absolute power of unaccountable leaders is not merely a good thing but a thing beyond discussion or reconsideration.

“If the Senate Conservative caucus collectively thoughy it necessary to censure Senator Ruth, that’s one thing. But if the Conservative leader attempts to send Senator Ruth to Siberia, the Senate caucus should tell him to shove it.” (Christopher Moore’s History News, May 4, 20/10).

Thanks Chris. Accuse me of stealing your thunder if you like. Or take it as a tribute.

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3 Responses to “Chris Moore on The Heave and Gordon Brown”


  1. 1 Brian Busby May 11, 2010 at 3:40 pm

    I’m pleased to see these words of wisdom repeated.

  2. 2 Christopher Moore May 12, 2010 at 9:46 am

    Judged by its influence, it’s closer to the gentle flap of a butterfly’s wing than to thunder. But steal it, steal it, please.

  3. 3 x-faktor October 29, 2013 at 3:57 pm

    I recently could hardly go away your internet site before suggesting that I genuinely cherished the standard details someone offer your website visitors? Shall be once again usually to examine completely new articles


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