Lessons From Britain's New Government

  • Playlist
  • Download
  • Embed
    <iframe src="http://www.npr.org/player/embed/126805537/126805521" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

NPR Senior News Analyst Dan Schorr reflects on the formation of a new government in the United Kingdom, and what the rest of the world can learn from the British.


Britain's new prime minister David Cameron got down to business today. He held the first cabinet meeting of his newly formed coalition government. Senior news analyst Daniel Schorr sees a teachable moment in the surprising turn of events across the pond.

DANIEL SCHORR: Westminster, the mother of all parliaments, is offering its latest lesson to America, the granddaughter of democracies. From the potential turmoil of a hung parliament, that is one with no majority, it has drawn the makings of a coalition improbably joining the right with the left. To make this possible, the losing labor prime minister, Gordon Brown, had to commit political hara-kiri, which he did with great grace and dispatch.

And so the conservative leader David Cameron, whose party made the greatest gains in the election, was able to present himself to the queen as the one who should form a government. If this is what is called muddling through, we would like to see it packaged for export. On this side of the Atlantic, the byword is dysfunctional government, using the filibuster to bring the government to a dead stop. That may satisfy the Tea Party people, but in that older democracy, conscious of limits, there is an understanding of the outer boundaries of partisanship.

This is not a very promising day for some democracies. In Ukraine, the speaker of parliament had to unfurl an umbrella to ward off a shower of eggs. In Greece, tear gas is deployed against demonstrators before the parliament. And while we edge towards dysfunctional government, Britain quietly goes her way.

This is Daniel Schorr.

Copyright © 2010 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at www.npr.org for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by a contractor for NPR, and accuracy and availability may vary. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Please be aware that the authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio.



Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the NPR.org Community rules and terms of use, and will be moderated prior to posting. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.

NPR thanks our sponsors

Become an NPR sponsor

Support comes from