Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Calling Time for Parliament

OK, now this ridiculous farce about the timing of the general election in the UK has gone on long enough.

Why on earth should the incumbent Prime Minister have the power to call a general election at any time, up to the date of the final expiry of the Parliament? It is just another piece of the Royal prerogative that has long outlived its usefulness. It is blatantly unfair that an incumbent government should be allowed to decide for itself when its mandate needs renewing, with all the advantage in planning and party expenditure that this allows.

The first sign of a government that is serious about reforming Parliament would be to set fixed expiration dates for each Parliament. At present, the date is movable up to five years after the previous election. In my view, it should be a fixed date every four years. That would allow all those involved in the electoral process to plan their lives, and remove the potential for abuse that currently exists.

Of course, if a hung Parliament does emerge from the next election, then I suspect that a fixed term will indeed become compulsory: if I were Nick Clegg, I would insist that any coalition agreement was allowed to run its full course, otherwise the potential for political mischief by the Prime Minister of the day could be substantial.

Meanwhile, as yet another week passes with no date for the budget and no date for an election, the economic position of the UK grows more grave and the political outlook grows more uncertain. Fixed term Parliaments operate in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland: it is long overdue that they were introduced for Westminster too.

7 comments:

Ciraric said...

I'm going to go with my stereotypical response to this and say that fixed terms make things less exciting.

Newmania said...

I see Cleggy is all over the place saying he is a new Thatcher ...yup I remember all the help we got defeating the Unions , not to say the Soviet Union , from you lot .

Nowt

Cicero said...

Newmania, I don't recall that fighting the Cold war was the personal preserve of Conservatives, and I certainly don't recall seeing you at the Estonian Legation in 1980 or the Protests against Polish martial law in 1981. So if you have nothing to say, don't bother saying it.

Anonymous said...

I entirely agree. The current situation is ludicrous. Those who can't see that need to imagine how they would set up a fair democratic system from scratch. The idea that the incumbent government decides exactly when to go to the people wouldn't even occur to them.

Newmania said...

Miaaaoo , get her ….CS ,the Soviet Union may , for all I know , have been even more cowed by the maintenance of a Nuclear deterrent and NATO than your good self , terrifying though you may be . Lib/labs spent the period suggesting an equivalence between said military dictatorship and Land of the Free . That’s all .

I can`t resist it , the Estonian legation of 1980 ,(who he ? ) So… when I was acquiring sticky fingers and eye liner you contracted an oddly specific desire to free , wait for it , Estonia ? Did you pick this quaint kingdom from the Atlas the way the Wombles pick their names ? Did you seriously spend your adolescent weekends fighting the Ruskies CS ? Admirable , doubtless ,but , ever so slightly nuts if you don’t mind me saying so . No offence , but how did you get there; a magical flying car built by uncle Potts ? Hope the child catcher didn’t get you !


Oh dear me , the red army had no chance did they . Don’t spoil it CS its too delicious ,..” Where’s your homework CS..” “I’ e been liberating the down trodden masses sir , the cat wee-ed on it during an exchange of small arms fire ….”

Don`t ever change.

Cicero said...

Oh dear Newmania, I am obviously a fair deal older than you. The Cold War was not just a military stand off. It was a fundamental clash of values between Democratic states and anti-democratic ones. The 1980s- which perhaps you struggle to remember- were a time of significant political upheaval: major, often Soviet sponsored Peace Movements held massive demonstrations in the West, while in the East Solidarity and Charter 77 and Fidesz were the largest movements in opposition to Communism- which really was the evil Empire. I got involved in supporting anti-Communist dissidents.
In the end it came down to making a moral choice about whose side you were on. While Tory Boys were wearing "Hang Mandela" tee-shirts and Labour people supported CND, my political contribution was to support Solidarity.
"What did you do in the Cold War Daddy?"
"I Bl**dy well fought it!".
In fact I am proud to have been a cold warrior- and that is why I have been recognised by post Communist governments for having supported them when very few others did. It may sound a bit pious- and at the time I did get a certain amount of very similar flack from -with all due respect- idiots who thought I was fighting for lost causes, but if you believe in Liberalism, it is actually surprisingly easy to make the right political or moral choices, and despite your -slightly childish- derision I think I did make a contribution and this why I have had the honour of being recognised.
I guess at the time you were just too busy playing Subbuteo or coping with "teenage kicks" to have noticed what was going on in the world.

Newmania said...

.If pontificating was an Olympic sport CS…. I have been a Conservative since the Unions turned the lights out and my father told me the Russians told them to. Liberals were also keen unilateral disarmers ( quickly back to it now ) who detested Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher at least as much as the Soviet Union(Insanity ?)
The reaction in Liberal circles to Clegg ‘outing himself ‘as a supporter of Margaret Thatcher’s Union reform’s ( in the Speccie ) I think locates your problem . His mild ,and decades ,late endorsement of liberalising the UK Economy has not by any means been universally supported in Liberal circles It must make your cringe with shame to read it . When the wind changes the weather vein will turn left against it did for the entire New Labour period of a penny on income tax and Ashdown`s prolonged negotiations with Blair.

I think by “fought “ you mean “said “ but I have no disagreement with you It is the Liberal Party whose record is poor .Your support of Mandelson`s “Post democratic “ EU shows me your commitment to democracy is ‘negotiable’ .

I am 46 by the way as a teen-ager I was probably as po-faced and self important as you , its just that I have out grown it . You will spend the day positioning your self on global geo political issues , I will be changing nappies watching C Beebies and , who , knows , perhaps ‘teenage kicks ’ will be on the menu if I `m lucky ... ...