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It’s a date and there’s no getting out of it

UnknownWhat a bright day it was when Mr Cameron and Mr Clegg stood in the Rose Garden of number 10 to pledge their troth. Many of the commitments made have since turned to dust.

No more so, than those heady commitment to sort out parliament itself. Reform of the House of Lords, well, no change there. The unelected lot can wrap themselves in ermine for a while yet,

Electoral reform – the Liberal Democrats got a referendum on their least favourite proportional system, the alternative voting system of electing members of parliament. A referendum that was duly lost, not least because the Prime Minister himself opposed it.

Consequently cutting down the number of MPs, a Cameron objective, was lost, why? Those Liberal Democrats decided it was pay back time for the failure of the conservatives to back the other changes. Indeed this one deed might have caused  the Tories the next election.

So what remains? The Fixed-term Parliament Act 2011.

Before this Act, the prime minister of the day could call elections as he or she saw fit.  The prime minister would keep the timing of the election  a very guarded secret and the date chosen would be for the maximum advantage of the government. The act removes that discretion.

Now the period between elections is set at five years with a fixed date for the  dissolution of Parliament and polling day. As a consequence voters now know that they’ll be heading for the polling stations next May.

Only two things could change this.  First a motion for an early general election is agreed either by at least two-thirds of the whole House or without division or; secondly, if a motion of no confidence is passed and no alternative government is confirmed by the Commons within 14 days.

Now Tory MPs have changed their minds. They want to revert to the old system. And you can see why. With the prospect of another hung parliament, going it alone as a minority government and holding an election when the runes read in your party’s favour must hold great attraction.

Recent research has shown that strategically timed opportunistic elections have allowed governing parties to realize an average vote-share bonus of just under 6 percent and seat-share bonuses of 12 percent, doubling the probability that the Prime Minister survives in office. Tempting eh.

But without a clear majority its unlikely that this act will be repealed. It certainly would not be in the interest of the smaller parties that  hold the balance of power to allow the government to choose the date. To be seasonal it would be a case of turkeys voting for Christmas. That ain’t going to happen, so the the Tories are stuck with the Act for a while yet.

 

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One Response to “It’s a date and there’s no getting out of it”

  1. Robert says:

    I just found this site interesting.

    Until Wales and Scotland get full devolution this is a game a political game and in Wales we desperately need a second party hopefully Plaid to be much closer to labour to place some pressure on it, this one party is really not good for politics on the other hand who wants the damn Tories .

    But politics in Wales is not good after voting all my life at the last general election in 2010 I gave up beings severely disabled with paraplegia I just could not see which party to vote for all three would have me in work or out of benefits or a dam sight poorer.

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