Saturday, May 15, 2010
Nick Listening to Din of Discontent over 55% Rule?
We learnt soon after Nick and Dave's civil ceremony that their marriage had an anti-divorce device proposed: to dissolve the five year fixed term a majority of 55% will be required. On the face of it Cameron has relinquished one of the PM's major powers: that of choosing the election date, often criticised as allowing a time to be chosen when the economy is good or can be made to seem so. But the new rule suggests Cameron could be defeated on a vote of no confidence by 51% yet still continue in power to try and form a new coalition. The rationale here is that neither party in the coalition would be able to 'pull the plug' on it as the Conservatives have 47% and the opposition plus the Lib Dems 53%. So neither side can pull the rug out within the 5 years, just because, say, they are ahead in the opinion polls and think an election would do them a power of good. Sounds good? Hmm.
Critics argue that wheras before the PM would have been bound to face the voters, he can carry on and if MPs want to cause this to happen, they have to muster more than the current opposition currently numbers. So this 'locks in' the coalition and makes it invulnerable, in theory to adverse votes. Many, like David Blunkett, Andrew Adonis and Jack Straw that his is merely a cynical 'fix' to keep Nick and Dave cosy and safe in power. The US has fixed terms they say but if the executive party loses its majority in the legislature, it just has to struggle on as best it can. However there is a precedent within the UK. The Scottish Parliament has a threshold of 66%, set by the Labour-Lib Dem coalition. And if a new first minister cannot be found within 28 days then an election must be held. Wales has a similar system.
All this proves what a delicate and perverse thing the constitution is; you pull away at one bit and another threatens to fall off in a completely different part. But Tory MPs are not happy about all this and may kick up. Because they think it unconstitutional and udemocratic? Or because it prevents them rushing to the polls once Dave has lulled us into thinking he's quite good at this governing business and Nick can now be ditched?
This is perhaps a very good example of why we don't fiddle with our constitution(unwritten as it is). The whole idea of fixed term Parliaments is rubbish as well(so American and boring). It creates all sorts of areas of contention. Just as creating the Scottish Parliament did(and nearly resulted in the English people being robbed of democracy last week), and the abolition of the voting right of hereditary peers(thus the current mess of the House of Lords).
Leave well alone and get on with ruling the country in a way that people care about(not necessarily passing more laws, perhaps repealing a few would be a good start), rather than constitution naval gazing that interests few and pleases even fewer.
You don't seem to have got many so far.
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