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So democracy and representation starts here?
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roz


Posts: 1,793
Joined: Mar 2005
Post: #1
13-05-2010 12:17 AM

Seems the Tories in Disguise Party and the 'Old Tories' have started as they mean to go on by immediately raising the Commons majority needed for a vote of no confidence in the current Government from 50 to 55%. This is disgraceful and a complete contradiction to the Lib Dem claims about improving democratic representation. Electoral reform is apparently only for the rest of us.

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michael


Posts: 3,216
Joined: Mar 2005
Post: #2
13-05-2010 03:12 PM

A remarkably clear explanation is offered at:
http://www.libdemvoice.org/confusion-rei...19488.html

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sydenhamcentral


Posts: 269
Joined: Mar 2008
Post: #3
13-05-2010 03:27 PM

Good article Michael. Makes sense to me.

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Baboonery


Posts: 581
Joined: Sep 2007
Post: #4
13-05-2010 03:56 PM

As the comments to that article show, however, it's complete nonsense. It's a tactical move designed to prevent the dissolution of the coalition, and as such is both political and an attempt to bind future parliaments by the practicalities of the current one. Bad law.

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Snazy


Posts: 1,504
Joined: Jan 2008
Post: #5
13-05-2010 05:51 PM

Surely this has to be passed first? Confused
So a crazy suggestion as it is, its not law yet.... is it ?

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Snazy


Posts: 1,504
Joined: Jan 2008
Post: #6
13-05-2010 05:57 PM

Read the article now, and it makes a little more sense now. Amazing how a hard hitting one line version of a story can make you think otherwise.

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roz


Posts: 1,793
Joined: Mar 2005
Post: #7
13-05-2010 07:33 PM

How about reading independent articles...

http://www.mattwardman.com/blog/2010/05/13/more-on-55/

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Snazy


Posts: 1,504
Joined: Jan 2008
Post: #8
14-05-2010 01:10 PM

interesting opinion, with a little hint of spin. But as an individual, I am happy with what I have read of the act.

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Baboonery


Posts: 581
Joined: Sep 2007
Post: #9
14-05-2010 02:17 PM

I like the way you thought the blogger had spin, but a website called LIBDEMVOICE didn't!Rofl

The convenience of the government of the day should not be enshrined in the law governing parliamentary procedure. If you can't get this done with a gentlemen's agreement, you can't get it done.

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roz


Posts: 1,793
Joined: Mar 2005
Post: #10
14-05-2010 04:43 PM

Even the Daily Mail are complaining about it. And , no, I didn't buy it, it was in the cafe where I had lunch today, sitting open on the table at the relevant page.

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jon14


Posts: 145
Joined: Sep 2007
Post: #11
17-05-2010 12:38 PM

I don't know what the problem is. The BBC reported it wrongly, stating that the change would mean 55% of votes would be needed to carry a vote of no cofidence against the government.

This bill would mean that the prime minister can't decide on his own when to dissolve parliament. He would need 55% of MPs to agree. This is a mechanism for making a fixed parliament exactly that.

In the Scottish parliament it's more like two thirds of MPs needed to dissolve. Far from being undemocratic, it's more 'democratic'.

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Baboonery


Posts: 581
Joined: Sep 2007
Post: #12
17-05-2010 12:56 PM

The problem is a) that a government losing a confidence vote can't now be forced to dissolve b) that introducing new concepts like supermajorities into parliamentary procedure is the thin end of a very dangerous wedge, particularly when said supermajority is fiddled to be 'just a bit more than what we don't have' c) that the larger party in the coalition holds a convenient 47% of the seats, and that even if such a guarantee is necessary, the law should not be written for the political expediency of the current government - that sort of thing should be covered by an agreement between the parties, not the law d) that it's not worth the paper it's written on, because pretty soon the Tories could find 50 Labour MPs willing to take a shot at overturning the last election's result in the blink of an eye. 66% would make much more sense, if accompanied by the 28-day safeguard there is in Scotland.

So as well as being against everything this country stands for, it's unnecessary, time-consuming, funds-consuming legislation. You know, of the sort that the Conservatives and LibDems promised to abolish.

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michael


Posts: 3,216
Joined: Mar 2005
Post: #13
17-05-2010 02:13 PM

It is an interesting issue I'm still not 100% sure that 55% is right, but it does make for an interesting constitutional discussion.

If there is a no confidence vote passed then the government has little chance of continuing in its current formation, but in a hung parliament (including most parliaments in a PR or AV system) it is possible for a minority government to continue until the end of a fixed term parliament.

A coaltion with less than 45% of the seats is highly unlikely to be stable as it would need to support of too many smaller parties on a consistant basis. So if a coalition has less than 45% it can be put out of its misery quickly by a 55% majority, but this should be the last resort of a parliament that cannot provide real government.

Should the existing government coalition fail it is likely that a no confidence vote would follow, but rather than leading directly to fresh elections it would be beneficial to see if there can be a Lib/Lab or Con/Unionist coalition, possibly with the support of one of the smaller parties. But SNP or even Sinn Fein should not be able to force a general election if one of these smaller parties feel like overthrowing a minority government (such as Lib/Lab). This would protect democracy in particular situations but not over-protect democracy.

66% would a workable percentage for the safeguards I am suggesting but could lead to the situation where a minority government (i.e. Conservative on 47% of seats) is able to hold off an election for years because the combined opposition is short by 13% of the super-majority required to call an election. Whilst it might be possible to tolerate this temporarily for a few percentage points short of a majority, this would not be appropriate if the governing party had less than 35% of seats.

In the current parliament it would be possible for the Conservatives to prevent an election because all other parties do not combine to 55%, but having lost a no confidence vote they would need to find a new partner in government or Cameron would be required to step aside and let the Labour leader attempt to form a government (presumably a new alliance would already be formed before a no confidence vote).

So who gains?
Well the Conservatives have an effective veto on elections in this parliament.
Lib Dems can switch their support from Conservatives to a left leaning coalition at any time. They can also stop the Conservatives calling an election when it would be electorally convenient for them.
Labour and other parties almost certainly knows when the next election will be called, and have an opportunity to become part of the government without having to force another election.
Everybody gains because a small party cannot force an election by simply withdrawing support from a much larger party (although each piece of legislation would need the support of more than one party).

I'm sure some of my arguments are self-contradictory, but that is because the whole point is to find a delicate balance. Having thought about this over the last week I come to a personal conclusion (unless I see more compelling evidence) that 55% is about right to balance stability, good governance, and protections to the democratic system which were seriously lacking until this parliament.

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steveb


Posts: 113
Joined: Nov 2007
Post: #14
17-05-2010 02:54 PM

Quote:
In the Scottish parliament it's more like two thirds of MPs needed to dissolve


In fact its 75%.
That was Labour's legislation, and I don't recall a major row about it.
As Jon14 says, this is all about ensuring that a fixed term parliament lasts for a fixed term, except for very exceptional circumstances.

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Baboonery


Posts: 581
Joined: Sep 2007
Post: #15
17-05-2010 03:11 PM

Indeed it was Labour's legislation, but a) it had the chance of doing what it said on the tin, which this doesn't, b) was installed as a general principle to last beyond the length of that parliamentary term, which this (by the coalition's admission) isn't, c) was created for a new parliament, not one with centuries of procedure and tradition d) contained a 28-day blow-up, which this doesn't.

Most countries that have fixed term parliaments have no equivalent to a 55% rule - the idea that such a move is necessary is just spin. They don't have such a rule because they settle for the fact that regaining political stability via elections when parliament is up the spout is more important than the great god of fixed electoral terms. I don't agree with fixed terms anyway - I think the benefits they give are minimal but I think this is a silly way to go about enforcing them.

Besides, it's rubbish PR.

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Johnc


Posts: 138
Joined: Jan 2007
Post: #16
17-05-2010 06:21 PM

I tend to agree with Baboonery. Whats so great about a fixed term Parliament. Surely if a government is unable to get its legislation passed, then its time for them to seek a fresh mandate. You cant have different criteria for different types of vote. Either its 55% for everything or 51% for everything.

Look what happens in the USA where there have been many recent examples of lame duck presidents unable to do anything

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jon14


Posts: 145
Joined: Sep 2007
Post: #17
18-05-2010 09:38 AM

Johnc Wrote:
I tend to agree with Baboonery. Whats so great about a fixed term Parliament. Surely if a government is unable to get its legislation passed, then its time for them to seek a fresh mandate. You cant have different criteria for different types of vote. Either its 55% for everything or 51% for everything.


I'm no proponent of fixed parliaments - I rather prefer the British system where a Prime Minister can call it when he likes when he thinks he has the most chance of getting elected.

But didn't the people say they were sick of these politicians in it for themsleves, doing what's best for them? At least with a fixed term parliament, parliaments are dissolved for the right reasons.

You can have different criteria for different types of vote. In the Scottish parliament it's 50% plus one for no confidence and 66% (according to BBC) or 75% (accroding to SteveB).

I think Baboonery had a valid point when he said that laws (the 55%) shouldn't be made just for a specific coalition on a specific parliament. There should be more of a principle than that, and therefore maybe 66% would've been better.

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NewForester


Posts: 377
Joined: Feb 2008
Post: #18
18-05-2010 12:29 PM

It's not just a problem for votes of No Confidence, but also for ones with significant majorities. At 55%, the Labour party could have called an early election at any time in the last parliament (with 55.2% of the seats), thereby invalidating the idea of fixed term parliaments.

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roz


Posts: 1,793
Joined: Mar 2005
Post: #19
19-05-2010 10:53 PM

Dear oh dear, what have people voted in. Looking less Morecambe and Wise, perhaps more Dastardly and Muttley.

The Tories are refusing to let their backbenchers(1922 Committee) meet without ministers being present which will potentially sway any votes/decisions in favour of the Government line and clearly reducing any attempt at backbench rebellion,or heaven forbid, independent critical thinking.

The Lib Dems are asking for more tax payers money as the Civil Service support given to them as part of the government clearly is not enough and they also want the cash usually reserved for opposition parties. Still sitting on the fence.

I go back to my original question; so democracy and representation starts here, does it?

I give it 6 months until an inevitable autumn election following of course an inevitable summer of strikes and public discontent. As long as we are allowed to, that is but perhaps the right to strike will be taken away from the rest of us as it has been for BA staff , as its clear that the judiciary will forever protect the establishment.

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