A week is a long time in politics. On this blog it’s clearly ten days.
I have never yet voted (in a general election) for a candidate who got elected. This didn’t change. Overall, happy that the Greens got their first MP, happy that Cameron didn’t get a majority, disappointed by mostly everything else.
A Lib-Dem/Labour coalition was clearly not going to work, the numbers, personalities and media. So with the option between a Lib-Dem/Conservative coalition and a Conservative minority government, which would be the lesser of two evils? Considering that neither Labour nor the Lib-Dems can afford to fight another election and that Labour need time to pick a new leader and a new direction, I think that a minority government would have been asking for trouble. So, the Lib-Dem/Conservative might have been the least worst choice, not just for Nick Clegg, but for everyone.
There are a lot of people in the new cabinet that I don’t like. There are some I grudgingly respect and a few I actually do like. Taking a 5% pay cut is a good sign (but when the company I worked for ten years ago was getting into trouble we took a 10% pay cut…). Other than that it’s all noise and promises so far.
Rewriting the Unwritten Constitution
There seems to be a lot of confusion between the ability to bring down the government and the ability to dissolve parliament. As I see it the proposal (which currently lacks a lot of detail) will change things like this:
|The Prime Minister has the right to dissolve parliament and call an election at any point, and must call one after five years||The Prime Minister has no right to dissolve parliament and call an election. An election will take place automatically after five years.|
|MPs may force the resignation of the Prime Minister if more than 50% vote for a motion of no confidence.||MPs may force the resignation of the Prime Minister if more than 50% vote for a motion of no confidence.|
|MPs have no way to dissolve parliament.||MPs may dissolve parliament if more 55% vote in favour.|
So the PM is giving up power, and MPs will gain a new power. So far so good.
The problem is with what happens after a vote of no confidence brings down the PM. Currently it would likely lead to the defeated PM resigning and calling an election. In the proposed system it would only do the first. So what if more than 50% but less than 55% of MPs hate the current government (e.g. in the current parliament, what happens if the Lib-Dems decide they want to get out of the coalition)? The PM would have to resign and then we’d be back in the same situation we were in after the election – horse trading and squabbling between the parties to form a new coalition or minority government.
If the proposed changes do become law, and if that 55% is, as the critics fear, high enough to prevent parliament being dissolved early, then Gordon Brown’s lasting legacy will be to have set the first Thursday in May as the date for all future elections.