14 May 2010

This 55% Red Herring Is A Storm In A Teacup

I think this is a storm in a teacup. In Scotland the super-majority is 66%. If you are serious about fixed term parliaments you have to have a super majority.

It still would only require a majority of parliament to change this rule back, it is not a democratic threat. This is all a bit of a red herring.

As it happens I have always thought the idea of fixed term parliaments (that loads of people were weirdly raving about before the election) a waste of time, because if the government of the day wants to find a way to call an early election they usually engineer a confidence vote and lose it. This has happened in Germany where they have fixed terms. There has to be this election escape clause otherwise you could end up with no government and years till an election.

I am beginning to think the Tory banckbenches are going to use this to scupper the coalition deal. We could be heading for another election within months unless the Lib Dems back down.


  1. I agree that this 55% thing is a bit of a storm in a teacup (such provisions are found in other countries, I believe) but not that people calling for fixed-term parliaments are "wierdly raving". Progressives have been campaigning for this for centuries. It may be true that governments can engineer a disslution vote (not confidence vote, which is not the same thing) in some circumstances, but that is not the same as the prime minister always automatically having the power unilaterally to decide the date of the election, as has been the case here up to now.

  2. PZT: I concede it is better than the PM having all the power, but I think democracy is losing out by having fixed terms of 5 years. That is very long, we have had an average of about 3 years since the 60s. Of course, if we got a more proportional system that would be worth it, but after all this talk, we still may get no change to FPTP, no Lords reform, but be saddled with larger constituency boundaries delivering big majorities to the Tories on less than 40% of the vote. Less MPs and more frequent and radical changes of boundaries elected on longer terms will erode what little democracy and accountability we have, making it almost impossible for smaller parties and hard working MPs to build up support in an area. Every time they get known, the boundaries will change and the large size of the electorate will make it impossible for all but the biggest parties to maintain contact with voters. This government could be a disaster for democracy as well as for the poor. I notice what little the low paid might get in an increase in income tax thresholds will be taken away with the NI increase (that employers are protected from). This free gift for those on middle and high incomes will mean even harsher cuts that will affect the poorest the most.