Friday, May 14, 2010

Six of the Best 53

The story of the day has been the growing opposition to the plans to require a 55 per cent majority in a vote before the Commons can be dissolved. As Ian Roberts on Liberal Democrat Voice explains, that opposition is built on a misunderstanding.

While Love and Garbage presents the controversy in more imaginative form: "Holmes ended, "If people are against fixed term parliaments – let that lie at the centre of their argument. Some are in favour of them, others are against. I, Watson, remain unsure. But the 55% rule (or some higher variant of it) is an inevitable consequence of fixed term parliaments. Let people argue about the real point of principle – the fixed term parliament – and consider its advantages and disadvantages – rather than focusing on a red herring."

The Word Forgetting, By the Word Forgot has written an open letter to Labour activists and coalition naysayers: "the truth is that yours was one of the most authoritarian, regressive governments Britain has ever had. In thirteen years, far more of our cherished liberties were stripped away than in the eighteen years Britain suffered under the ‘Iron Lady’. In the name of ‘security’ your party imposed on us detention without trial, trial without jury, control orders, ID cards, the DNA database, the National Identity Register, and most egregious of all, the Independent Safeguarding Authority."

Life goes on beyond Westminster. Unmann-Wittering Blog has found a 1979 film report about the BBC Radiophonic Workshop.

Even better, a rare Spencer Davis Group track ("Rambling Rose") has turned up on Youtube.

And the lambing went smoothly in the Stiperstones this year, reports Snailbeachsheep.


Anonymous said...

"Let people argue about the real point of principle – the fixed term parliament – and consider its advantages and disadvantages – rather than focusing on a red herring."

That's a bit like saying "let's agree that we want a government and not concern ourselves with its composition or policies".

Many of us who favour fixed terms with some provision for interim polls simply consider the 55% requirement improper and dangerous. Why should we be urged to shut up to ease the proposal's passage for the benefit of the two governing parties? Is that liberal? Is it democratic?

It's a bad proposal, one that uniquely favours one plausible parliamentary combination and threatens our ability to break a future parliamentary deadlock.

If it's fixed terms we want, why allow a government with a large majority to go to the country unnecessarily just to gain seats, while denying that opportunity when no governing majority can be assembled and we most need a new poll?

"New politics" shouldn't be about telling critics to back a foolish scheme or shut up, it should involve listening to valid criticism that's in the national interest.

- Dave P

Anonymous said...

PS. If the 55% requirement for dissolution is indeed a "red herring" as the coalition's uncritical supporters keep teliing us, then why is the government set on making an issue of it? Those who don't like the scheme didn't pick this fight, it's the two parties who conjured up this figure after it was clear that they alone were likely to be able to command such a majority.

If it's a red herring, then the answer's simple: let the government quietly drop it. Who wants to fight over a herring? I don't, unless it's to throw it back - I'm vegetarian.

- Dave P

Unknown said...

PPS. I just read the piece you cited with approval. You omitted the following:

"Holmes thought. “I think this is cynical opportunism. The figure is just beneath the percentage of the coalition parties and would allow them to force an election contrary to the spirit of the fixed term rules.”

That's certainly more pertinent than herrings.

The truth is that to allow ANY majority to permit early dissolution is contrary to the spirit of fixed terms: a premature election should rather be permitted only when no-one can otherwise govern. And its's in the nature of such a scenario that it's no use making the exercise of that option subject to the very majority of Commons votes that isn't available for the immediate governance of the country.

- Dave P