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Bagehot

Three predictions for British politics in 2018

对2018年英国政坛的三大预测

The Lords will rebel, culture wars will rage—but Theresa May and Brexit will not be derailed

贵族的阻挠、文化战争兴起,但不会对特蕾莎梅和脱欧进程造成多大麻烦



Jan 4th 2018

2018年1月4日

THIS will be a year of two halves in British politics. The first six months will be dominated by drift. Theresa May will hold on as prime minister despite backbench discontent. Brexit will slouch ahead despite a growing sense of angst. The second half of the year will bring the possibility of high drama—of Parliament voting against Mrs May’s draft deal with the European Union, of the government collapsing, and of Jeremy Corbyn entering Downing Street. This column will offer two firm predictions for the era of drift and a more tentative one for the era of drama.

有人断言,2018年英国政坛大戏将分为上下半场。前半场将会是由“平淡无奇”唱主调,在后排议员的不满声中,特蕾莎·梅仍然当她的首相,脱欧工作也会在人们的愈发焦虑中艰难开展;而下半场将可能充满戏剧性:议会投票反对特蕾莎梅与欧盟达成的脱欧协议;当届政府垮台;杰里米·科尔宾入主唐宁街。而本刊也顺着这一说法的前半部分给出两项预测,而对后半部分则给予保留意见

The first prediction is that the House of Lords will play a more prominent role than it has since before the first world war, when the Lords tried to block the Liberal government’s reforms and David Lloyd George, the chancellor of the exchequer, mocked them as “five hundred men accidentally chosen from among the ranks of the unemployed”. The Lords have a constitutional duty to scrutinise the EU withdrawal bill, which is making its way through the Commons. But the scrutiny could easily flare into a political crisis, given that a majority of peers strongly oppose Brexit.

预测1:上议院将再次扮演重要角色。当时在一战前,时任上议院试图阻挠自由党政府的财税改革方案,时任财政大臣大卫·劳合·乔治曾嘲讽上议院就像“从不劳而获的人群中派出500个代表人物”。从宪法意义上说,上议院有职责审议下议院提交的脱欧法案,对其进行监督,但若大部分贵族强烈反对脱欧,这将很容易演变成一次政治危机。

Some leading Lords are spoiling for a fight with the government. Andrew Adonis, a Labour peer, has resigned as chairman of the government’s infrastructure commission to devote himself to stopping Brexit. Michael Heseltine, a Tory, has said that he regards Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party as less of a threat to the country than Brexit. Others worry that the withdrawal bill hands vast powers to the executive, which will use them to water down employment and other rights currently enshrined in EU law.

贵族老爷中的代表人物已经提前透露,将与政府唱对台戏。工党贵族安德鲁·阿多尼斯已辞去政府基建委员会主席职务,全力投入反脱欧运动;保守党贵族迈克尔·赫赛尔廷声称,和杰里米·科尔宾领导的工党相比,脱欧是对英国更大的威胁;其他贵族担心,脱欧法案将给予行政官员权力做大,将会冲击就业以及其他在当前欧盟律法体系中如鱼得水的权益

All this means that, oddly, the unelected House of Lords will have a more profound debate on the biggest change in Britain in half a century than will the elected House of Commons. The Lords include articulate, experienced people on both sides: John Kerr, for instance, knows as much as anybody about Article 50 of the EU treaty, since he was its principal author. The Lords are also freer to speak out than MPs, since for the most part they have already bagged what patronage they want. Conventional opinion will be turned on its head, as liberals rediscover the virtues of a revising chamber of experienced public servants (the meritocracy incarnate!), while conservatives rant about doddery old fools frustrating the will of the people.

很奇怪是吧? 这些都意味着不经民选直接就任的上议院,将比民众选出的下议院就这场半世纪来英国最大的变革展开更充分辩论。上议院中的各派都口齿伶俐,经验丰富:例如约翰·科尔,他比所有人都更了解里斯本条约第50条,因为他自己就是该条约的主要起草人。上议院的辩论比起下议院要更无顾忌,因为大部分人都已功成名就,了无牵挂。传统观念在这些人中大行其道,自由主义者称赞上议院多是经验丰富的老公务员,精英荟萃,而保守主义者则斥责他们是一群走不动路的老呆瓜,老是忤逆民意。

The Lords will probably send the withdrawal bill back to the Commons several times. They may even defeat the government on matters of detail. But after a display of rhetorical fireworks they will shy away from constitutional conflict. It is impossible for even the best-run unelected chamber to prevail in a struggle with an elected one. And, as the Daily Mail will no doubt point out, the House of Lords is far from well run. It is the second-largest legislative body in the world, after the Chinese National Congress, with more than 800 members, scores of whom avail themselves of the £300 ($400) daily attendance allowance and free parking in central London without opening their mouths.

上议院有可能数度否决下议院的脱欧法案,甚至更有可能于具体事务上与政府对抗,但在一系列言辞火爆的唇枪舌剑后,贵族们不会在宪法意义上做进一步冲突,即使是最擅长权谋的世袭贵族也不可能与民选议员对抗,《每日邮报》就曾毫不留情地指出,上议院远远称不上管理有方,它是仅次于中国全国人民代表大会的世界第二大立法机关,有超过800名成员,每名成员每日享有300英镑(约合400美元)的与会补贴,并默许他们在伦敦市中心免费泊车。

Nothing could be more British than the House of Lords. But the second prediction is the further Americanisation of British politics. For the past 30 years American politics has been consumed by “culture wars”, as questions of identity have replaced questions of economics at the heart of the political divide. Donald Trump, a billionaire Republican, did strikingly well among “deplorable” voters in the Rust Belt, while Hillary Clinton piled up votes in wealthy New York and California. Brexit is pushing Britain in the same direction, as the Conservative Party becomes the party of Leavers, who are concentrated in poor and rural areas, and Labour becomes the party of Remainers.

上议院就是英国这个国家的典型代表,但第二个预测显得英国政坛有点“美国化”。在过去30年间,美国政坛被“文化战争”这个主题所支配,阶层与种族问题比起经济问题更受各政治派别所青睐,譬如共和党的亿万富翁候选人唐纳德·特朗普在老工业区赢得了大量“失意”选民,而希拉里·克林顿则在纽约和加州这类富裕地区大获全胜。脱欧正把英国推向类似的境地,保守党成为了脱欧派的代言人,主攻贫困与边远地区,而工党则是留欧派的代表

The past month has already seen a heated battle in the culture wars, with the Home Office’s announcement that it is planning to restore Britain’s supposedly iconic “blue” passports (Bagehot has his old passport to hand and has no doubt that it is black). A great deal more can be expected, with the wars following the same pattern. Leavers will seize on some icon of national identity and independence, such as the Royal Yacht Britannia; Remainers will denounce the icon as cheesy or irrelevant; and Leavers will denounce the Remainers as metropolitan snobs. The danger is that these wars will shift from safe subjects like passports and yachts to fraught ones such as refugees.

在过去的一个月中,文化战争持续升温:内政办公室称其正在计划恢复英国旧有的经典款蓝色护照(然而白芝浩先生曾手持护照为黑色);随着纷争沿着固定模式发展,我们能想象到更多类似情景,脱欧派会揪住一些具备民族特色和独立性的东西不放,譬如皇家游艇不列颠尼亚号;留欧派则会谴责这些东西既低级又落伍,而脱欧派又会指责留欧派势利眼。怕就怕这些纷争会从无伤大雅的课题如护照、游艇上升到如难民这样的危险级别。

Fireworks and damp squibs

雷声大雨点小

The more tentative prediction is that the high drama of the second half of the year won’t change very much. Parliament will not vote down the bill to leave the EU. Mrs May’s government won’t fall. Mr Corbyn will not become prime minister (yet). And Britain won’t hold a referendum on the terms of Brexit. The only real chance of reversing Brexit is if the British people change their minds, and so far there is no sign of this happening. The establishment is doing an even worse job of fighting to overturn Brexit than it did to resist it in the first place. An astonishing proportion of anti-Brexiteers seem to come adorned with titles and company directorships. Mr Corbyn continues to equivocate. Adding to the sense of inevitability is the fact that the governing party is overwhelmingly one of Brexiteers. A new survey by Queen Mary University of London and YouGov reveals that only 14% of Tory party members want a second referendum and only 25% support continued membership of the single market (the figures for Labour members are 78% and 87%).

本刊保守预测,下半年预计的大戏将不会掀起多少浪花。议会不会就脱欧法案投反对票,梅姨的政府也没有垮台,科尔宾暂时还没当上首相,英国也不会就脱欧方式再次公投。唯一阻止脱欧的办法是全英人民回心转意,但目前为止似乎并不可能。建制派没在第一时间阻止脱欧的发生已属大错,现在又试图推翻脱欧公投结果更是错上加错。非常惊讶的是相当一部分的反脱欧人士似乎仅限于象征性地喊口号和指挥别人,而科尔宾同志则继续在脱欧问题上举棋不定,而事实上执政的保守党是最坚定的脱欧派之一更是预示着脱欧无可避免,在一项由伦敦玛丽王后大学和舆观网联合发起的新调查中,只有14%的保守党员希望发起第二次脱欧公投,而支持保留单一市场地位的人数只占25%(而工党成员的这一数字分别是78%和87%)

“Darkest Hour”, a new film about Winston Churchill, is a reminder that the direction of history can always be changed provided that politicians possess enough will and courage. The Remainers may yet find a hero. Mr Corbyn may get off the fence. But it seems much more likely that the drift that will characterise the first half of the year will characterise the second half as well. “It’s always darkest before the dawn,” John McCain, an American senator and former presidential candidate, likes to point out. “And then you get punched in the face.”

《至暗时刻》这部讲述丘吉尔的新片起到了很好的警示作用,说明只要政治家表现出充分的决心和勇气,历史的轨迹通常是可以被改变的。科尔宾同志,请拿出你的决心。尽管如此,英国政坛 2018年上半年的平淡可能会延续到下半年,但正如美国参议员和前总统候选人约翰·麦凯恩说的,“黎明前的黑暗最深邃”,本刊期待着如他所述的“被事实打脸”