Friday, 14 May 2010

Tough on Hypocrisy, Tough on the causes of hypocrisy

The 55% rule is fairly controversial, and so it should be. It is a small but significant change, of the type that should be discussed. I haven't made my mind up yet; I can see arguments on both sides.

David Blunkett has made his mind up, as have other Labourites. He says it is
"a profoundly anti-democratic move"
Worse still,
"The numbers mean that it would be impossible, even if every opposition MP united against this coalition, for the House to express its lack of confidence in it."
Gosh... so you'd never be party to something like this then? You'd never consent to be part of the movement that, as Leg-Iron points out, decided that:
The Scottish parliament needs 66% support for a vote of no confidence. Who set that level? Why, it was the Liberal/Labour coalition that ran the place before Al the Oily Fish took over.
But, wait a minute, what was David's quote again?
"The numbers mean that it would be impossible, even if every opposition MP united against this coalition, for the House to express its lack of confidence in it."
Err, no, what is being proposed is that a dissolution vote would need 55%; a "no confidence" vote could still be carried by 50%+1 vote. So that makes you wrong and hypocritical, David. Ooops.


  1. Okay, so 51% of MPs can block the passage of a Bill, it can vote that it has no confidence in the Government, but they cannot dissolve Parliament. What's supposed to happen next? There would be no Government and no hope of getting one that could govern. Am I missing something here?

    I think it is doubtful democracy in any case, because of the way in which it came about - not long constitutional discussion, but what someone described to me as a weekend of "whoring".

  2. Dear me. Well, first only citing one example, that of Scotland, is inadequate support for your argument and very unlike you, P.

    Secondly, you fail to grasp that what is contentious is not simply the 55%. Look deeper. It is well understood that one political party should not be able to hold the coalition to ransom. It is the MANNER in which 55% has been proposed in our democracy that is the nub of the issue.

    This is not an issue for the Executive to decide. It is an issue for the Executive to raise. Hopefully, this aberration is because those new to power have much on their plate and civil servants have forgotten the correct way to approach matters after so many years of Labour.

    Many thresholds are arbitrary in essence, but they must be arrived at in such a way that power is not seen to have been abused. This is fundamental, even to an amateur like me. Will they give me a job? I reckon I may have worked it out better on this occasion.

  3. Both of you please note: "I haven't made my mind up yet; I can see arguments on both sides."... this is not a debating ploy, that is actually how I feel. It is something I need to think about.

    What I am certain of, is that it is utter hypocrisy for Labour ex-ministers to decry this move when their party inflicted precisely that provision on the Scots...

  4. I wasn't directing my comment at you for the very reason you give.

    However, I am not sure that the comparison with Labour and the Scots is quite fair though. Both the Scots and the Westminster Govts are seeking to defend fixed term Parliaments. The Scots though (I assume) decided this prior to an election. Nickndave is doing it after an election.

    So in Scotland a mechanism to ensure a fixed Parliament follows from their a priori assumptions about what they want Parliaments to look like in general. In Westminster, it is a posteriori - a pragmatic attempt to prevent this particular popularly elected Parliament from having its will and punishing Dave for getting 3.5 million votes fewer than John Major in 1992 (and nearly 1 million fewer votes than Neil Kinnock!), despite that fact that he was against Gordon Brown, after 13 years of Labour rule, had spent more than three times the amount on his campaign, and had almost the entire press on his side, with even the Guardian not supporting Brown, etc. and therefore doesn't have an over all majority.

  5. Re Scotland.

    The 2/3 was proposed by the Scottish Constitutional Convention in 1995, it was enshrined in law in the Scotland Act 1998.

    A certain Gordon Brown MP contributed to the SCC report.