Just a few days into the new coalition Government and it’s clear that the Con Dem’s planned “new politics” are even more undemocratic than the old. Not only have the Lib Dems surrendered PR but their coalition with the Tories now wants to make it harder to hold Parliament to account.
Vince Cable outlines his three priorities - brains, brains, brains.
The Con Dem coalition is planning to change the rules governing the dissolution of Parliament. The status quo is that if 50% plus one MP votes to dissolve the Government, it is forced to resign and call new elections. This happened in 1979 when the Labour Government lost a vote of confidence. The changes the Con Dem’s want to make is to raise the limit, so it has to be 55% of MP’s who vote in no confidence for the Government to be forced to call new elections. This means that a Government could stay in power with only 46% till the next election.
Ah yes, I see what you've done there, very good.
The diagram below outlines the reasoning behind this rule change – if the Liberals broke from the Tories, and allied with all the other parties in calling for new elections they still would not be able to dissolve Parliament, despite having 53% of the seats (which represents 64% of the vote). The only way Parliament can be dissolved is if the Con Dem coalition votes to dissolve it. This effectively means the Tories can stop any dissolution of their Government – and allow the Tories to run a “Zombie Government” which cannot be removed but cannot pass legislation either. This is far from the Zombie Government SSY has long hoped for, a Government based on a fundamental and irreversible shift in brains from the living to the undead. ?
The Tories are also planning to change the number of constituencies to improve their electoral prospects, and making things harder for Labour. SSY has argued previously that it is ridiculous many opinion polls would have had Labour come third but still have the most seats in Parliament. the Tories planned reforms however, would further marginalise poorer working class constituencies where turnout is lower and are more likely to vote Labour. The Tories also plan to slash the number of Scottish seats in Westminster to 40, making Scotland’s political voice in the UK even more irrelevant.
On that note, the new fixed term Parliament David Cameron has introduced has decided on a date for the next elections in 5 years (which the Tories would be able to hang on to thanks to the new 55% limit). Fixed term parliaments can be progressive, because they remove the option of a ruling party calling an election later or early for their own advantage. This time however a small oversight appears to have been made – the next General Election has been called for the same day of the Scottish Parliamentary election. That means Scots will be asked to vote for their FPTP MP for Westminster, their FPTP MSP for Holyrood, and their List MSP for Holyrood.
It’s a disaster waiting for happen, a repeat of the 2007 fiasco where hundreds of thousands of votes were spoiled because people confused the vote for the council with the vote for Parliament. It was that disaster which forced them to hold the council elections separately from Holyrood. It now appears that logic has been thrown out the window. Also, it will mean that a Scottish Parliamentary election will take place with the backdrop of a British General election, which will confuse and skew the debate. Expect thousands of Scots to vote Labour for Holyrood who would otherwise not do so to “keep the Tories out” of a Parliament they have no chance of controlling.
Scotland should have it’s own Parliament, with full powers, no Crown involvement, and full PR in an Independent Socialist Republic – where MSP’s would only be paid the average wage of a skilled worker, and both they and the Government would be recallable. That’s a far cry from the undemocratic gerrymandering the Con Dems are trying to introduce.