Thursday, May 13, 2010

Tory stitch-up guarantees a full five year term - laughing in the face of democracy

See this extract from the coalition agreement.

The parties agree to the establishment of five year fixed-term parliaments. A Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition government will put a binding motion before the House of Commons in the first days following this agreement stating that the next general election will be held on the first Thursday of May 2015. Following this motion, legislation will be brought forward to make provision for fixed term parliaments of five years. This legislation will also provide for dissolution if 55%or more of the House votes in favour.

What this means, particularly in the last sentence, is that it is unlikely the Tories can be ousted from Parliament even if they prove to be terribly unpopular and the coalition falls apart.

Why? Because 55% of the House is 357.7 MPs, call it 358.

There are
307 Tory MPs (I am assuming Thirsk and Malton will return Conservative for the purpose of this blog)
258 Labour MPs
57 LibDem MPs
28 others

So if all the others, plus all the Labour MPs, plus all the LibDems voted to dissolve parliament, that would still only account for 343 MPs, still 15 short of the number required. So 15 Tories would have to vote against their own party in order to collapse the government.

Under the old system, a vote of confidence would have been a matter for the majority. 50% plus 1. Which would have been 325 + 1 = 326.

This is a disgraceful attack on our Parliamentary Democracy. It does not matter now how much the people might kick against any Tory legislation, it does not matter if the coalition falls apart. The Tories will hold the keys to number 10 until May 7th 2015 and not even a vote of no confidence can throw them out.

And don't forget, the LibDems have agreed to this, it is contained within the coalition agreement. Nobody will be surprised at the Tories gerrymandering the system to ensure they get to stay in power for the maximum amount of time, it is only what we would expect from a party with their record, but for the Liberal Democrats to sanction this is a real body blow. Neither Liberal, nor Democratic.


Greenbank Ranter said...

really interesting article on Left foot forward about this.

this isn't so much about the Conservatives stitching up parliament as the Lib Dems getting protection from Snap elections.

Currently David Cameron [as PM] can call an election with no consultation at all, under this change he would need the Lib Dems to agree.

and if the Lib Dems where to leave the coalition they could still have a vote of no confidence in the government at 50%+1 which would effectively end the parliament.

where legislation like this does exist (i.e Scotland) there is usually a "safety valve" if there is a vote of no confidence (50%+1) and a new first minister can not be agreed within 28 days then the parliament automatically dissolves.

I think we need to wait for the legislation to see if these extra details are part of the bill.

Phil said...

Hmmm... perhaps you could have a word with your colleagues in the Scottish parliament?

Badham Farm said...

I suppose it has been OK for Labour to ensure they had more seats with less votes. In this election if Labour had polled as well as Tories they would have majority of 65 - so thats OK then !

Compare to measures to erode our democracy pushed through by Balir 7 his cronies that s not a lot.

scouseboy said...

I was going to write a similar article on my blog. I agree, neither Liberal, nor Democratic.
This particular snippet was not highly broadcast from the "Con Dem Love in."
What makes this worse, there will be 22 out of 57 lib Dem MP's will be in the pay of the government,from Deputy PM to PPS. All will be expected to keep collective responsibility. The opposition will never be in a position to win a no confidence vote.
The Con-Libs are an absolute disgrace!

Anonymous said...

strange how something like this gets people wound up- yes i agree its undemocratic and all that but the good news is that it shows the Lib Dems for what they are

also your maths are right but in reality the 28 Others include the Sinn Fein Mps who dont sit at Westminster and the speaker will by convention vote with the govt so even more tory backbenchers would need to revolt

Phil said...

The Tories can still be ousted from government with a 50%+1 MP vote - same as always - as this forces them to resign. This allows for a new coalition to be formed, potentially headed by Labour.

A high bar (55% is suggested for UK but in the Scottish parliament it's 66%) is ESSENTIAL for the "dissolution" vote to enable the concept of fixed term parliaments. Otherwise a party with a majority could simply render the "fixed term parliament" law useless by virtue of it having a majority.

Fixed term parliaments were a feature of the LABOUR manifesto! Too bad their supporters didn't understand how they work and what they require to work.