Friday, 16 May 2008

Fixed term Parliaments due to fail at Second Reading

You’ve just got to love them, don’t you? Possibly taking advantage of Gordon Brown’s willingness to return many of the executive powers so freely exercised by his predecessor, the Liberal Democrats have tabled a Bill to remove the sitting Prime Minister’s right to call an election at any point within his term, and replacing this with fixed four-year term Parliaments.

Strange that the Dim Lebs of all people should have decided they oppose the current system – if Brown had stuck to his guns and called the election last Autumn, it would have most likely spelt electoral meltdown for the Yellow Streak, led by the hopelessly ineffectual and charisma-free Menzies Campbell. Now with the more voter friendly (though as yet, barely more effective) Nick Clegg at the helm, Britain’s fourth party may at least plug the gaps and live to fight another election.

The Conservative Party have not altogether ruled out looking at fixed-term elections in the future, but have highlighted that early elections are at times appropriate. For example, “in the case of a prime minister who says he's going to serve a full third term and then doesn't I think it's appropriate to hold an election, because the people voted for one thing and then got something completely different" suggested Teresa May.

Yet the current system is “unfair and inefficient” said the party’s Justice spokesman, David Howarth. Unfair possibly, since this clearly gives the Government party the opportunity to assess the electoral winds for the most favourable time, but inefficient? The UK has not proportionally had any greater or fewer elections than any other democratic state in the EU since the Second World War, save the dual-election year of 1976 – and given the strikes and civil strife taking place that year, this was surely such an example of where a renewed mandate was necessary.

The likelihood of this Bill to pass to Third Reading is pretty remote in any case, but you would think that a party with aspirations of Government would have higher priorities at this time.

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