The Tory led coalition government wasted no time on assuming power in 2010 to bring in ‘unannounced’ and ‘un-mandated’ legislation to invoke a fixed length parliament of five years. This move has overturned centuries of tradition involving the British House of Commons. Why you might ask? Who wanted it you might ponder on – was it the public? Who did it benefit, you will perhaps puzzle about?
Well, it was cobbled together out of the blue (pun) by the Conservatives and the LibDems when they formed a coalition government in 2010, due to a hung parliament. Its purpose was to handcuff the two parties together (in a deadly embrace as it has turned out for the LibDems perhaps?) for the traditional ‘maximum’ length of five years time allowed for our Westminster parliament. You see, the Tories were desperate to lock-in their unlikely partners for the allowed maximum time (necessary perhaps since the LibDems have for countless decades ‘hated’ the Conservatives with a vengeance, hadn’t they?).
The change was brought-in at such a rapid pace that it allowed no time for public consultation. debate, nor consideration of the many disadvantages including a loss of flexibility and accountability, did it? After five years you can only end up with a comatose administration, paralyzed & devoid of ideas, tired & wilted, combined with zombie style characteristics [other countries restrict terms to four years, don’t they?].
Beforehand, the British Monarch, by Royal Prerogative, dissolved all our parliaments at due time – basically though when the Prime Minister of the day requested it! The constitutional arrangements for parliament have been turned on their head simply to furnish one party with power for a full five years – how is that valid democracy, you might question?
The truth of the matter can be summarised in two things. Firstly, a fixed term makes it much more difficult for any government to fall, however incompetent or unpopular – does that help governance, do you think?. Secondly, for the first time in British politics, the Prime Minister is denied the right choose the time of the next general election – some say a key advantage so on the surface equable in terms of electoral fairness, but surely in practice an honest PM caring for their Country is best placed to give the electorate their voice at the right time?
As we always seem to be desperate to hang onto the coattails of our American cousins, we have to accept that we gather both good & bad traits from them in the process. This has included invoking these days a Presidential style of politics in the UK, funded by influence seeking major bankrollers, and now a fixed term government arrangement that is giving us not under three weeks of electioneering as before, but at least a year of it – what a mammoth catastrophe, eh? Do YOU remember being consulted about that, or voting about that?
[Don’t you hold out any hope though of the ‘fixed term’ Act ever being repealed. Like the unfair ‘first past the post’ voting system, both Conservative and Labour, strongly support it because they believe it advantages themselves over other political parties – so sod the electorate and the Country, eh?].