A long-standing mystery, solved at last

Back in the day, there was a phenomenon known as “The Curse of the Odd-Numbered Star Trek Films”.

It was first noticed in the eighties for films starring Jim Kirk and his buddies and labelled so, because fan-opinion (and I concur in this) is that the odd-numbered films were… well, let’s charitably say not as good as the others.

Others would instead go for the words “rubbish” or “terrible” or “so bad I wanted to poke my own eyes out so I would never have to see any more of this”. John Montgomery has even helpfully analysed the IMDb scores, and it does seem to be a valid phenomenon.

So I got to wondering, what could possibly correlate?

Well, let’s look at the first six films.

Star Trek: The Motion Picture – not written by Nicholas Meyer
Star Trek 2: The Wrath of Khan – uncredited rewrite by Nicholas Meyer
Star Trek 3: The Search for Spock – not written by Nicholas Meyer
Star Trek 4: The Voyage Home – co-written by Nicholas Meyer
Star Trek 5: The Final Frontier – not written by Nicholas Meyer
Star Trek 6: The Undiscovered Country – co-written by Nicholas Meyer

Whaddayaknow? It turns out that for all that time, by looking at the films that weren’t so good, we missed the fact that it wasn’t that the odd films were bad that was the important point – it was that the even ones were good.

And they were all written by Nicholas Meyer.

(Sadly, this analysis falls apart on looking at the Next Generation films. Ah well.)

A short primer on the British Constitution as it pertains to the current situation

There’s been a lot of talk recently about the current hung parliament. Unfortunately there’s been a lot of misinformation, even from political commentators, about the Constitution of the UK, and how that should resolve.

So here’s a quick guide to the situation.

You vote for a Member of Parliament

You don’t vote for a party. You don’t vote for the leader of a party. In a general election in the UK, you vote for a single person to represent you in that parliament.

Most MPs belong to a party, which funds their campaign, and expects them to vote along party lines.

If your MP is a member of the Cabinet, they are obliged to vote with the government according to the doctrine of collective responsibility. Otherwise they are free to vote their conscience until the next election – though most tend to vote along party lines, as to do otherwise can invite deselection from the party. And few these days can afford to stand for parliament without party backing.

The sovereign appoints and dismisses the Prime Minister

Her Majesty the Queen is the person who gets to choose the next Prime Minister of the UK.

Not you. Not the press. Not the political commentators on the TV. It’s the Queen, and no-one else.

Having said that, she is bound by one particular convention – that the selected Prime Minister must be able to command the confidence of the House of Commons.

In normal times, this means appointing the leader of the party which has an overall majority of seats in the Commons.

There is currently no majority party in the House of Commons

No party won 326 seats or more in the recent election, and therefore we have what’s currently known as a hung parliament.

The parties are currently negotiating to see if they can form a coalition. For example, if two or more parties can, together, command 326 or more seats between them, the Queen could call upon the person designated to be the leader of this coalition to form a parliament.

If no agreement can be reached, we will have a minority government

If a successful coalition cannot be negotiated, the Queen will choose the person that she believes would be most likely able to command the confidence of the house. This would most likely be the person whose party commands the greatest number of seats, ie David Cameron. However, without a clear majority, every vote would have to be negotiated with people from outside the ruling party.

Many would claim that this would not be a bad thing.

There is no such thing as an unelected Prime Minister

The person the Queen invites to form her government must be a Member of Parliament. And every Member of Parliament is elected.

The role of Prime Minister is not elected directly in the United Kingdom.

This is all perfectly normal

There have been hung parliaments before. There is no vacuum of power; the current government continues until the Queen invites someone to form a new government and he or she accepts.

It’s exciting, especially if you love politics.

But it’s not unusual, groundbreaking, market-destroying, terrifying, or any kind of Constitutional crisis.