Sunday, 16 May 2010

The 55% Stitch Up

Much has been written about the ConDem coalition's intention to legislate for a threshold of 55% of Commons votes to dissolve Parliament.

Currently, if a PM loses a confidence vote by 50%+1 of the MPs, he has to go to the Queen and ask for a dissolution. Now they want it to be 55% of MPs voting for a dissolution. The fact that the Tories have 47% of MPs is just a co-incidence... isn't it? So the Lib Dems could leave the coalition, the Tories could lose a vote of confidence, (50%+1) but the other parties combined could not get the 55% for a dissolution.

Convenient, is it not? For Dave it is.. V. Convenient....

There has been a lot of discussion on the blogs, in particular here...

But they all seem to me to miss a simple point. The 50%+1 formula is a part of our unwritten constitution. It is obeyed by all PMs and all governments because it is a constitutional requirement. It means that if  a government loses the confidence of the House, that government falls, no question and no wriggling over percentages.

But the ConDem alliance wants to take it out of the constitution and make it law. The problem is that once it is a law or regulation, any succeeding government can change it in any way they want. They can make it 60% or 80%, whatever suits their particular need. And the ConDems will not be able to object, because they started it: they took it out of the realm of constitutional requirement and put it into the every day legal arena. And no Parliament can pass laws to bind any future Parliament, and any law can be changed by a simple majority.

Once again the so-called "Conservatives", who like to portray themselves as guardians of our traditions are playing games to suit themselves. And once again they fail to think it through, to the detriment of the constitution and the future functioning of our democracy.

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