Northernheckler's Blog

A Yorkshireman's adventures in the big Smoke

Con-Dem’s 55% rule would do Hitler proud

Have a look at the text of the coalition deal between the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats :Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition deal: full text | Politics | guardian.co.uk

I could probably do a blog on every line of this, but scroll to the bit about Political Reform (No. 6) – which starts by naming the date of the next election as “The first Thursday of May 2015″. Which is of course the longest it can legally be under our current system.

If you think like I do you’ll probably have reacted to that by thinking that the coalition is unlikely to last that long – it will doubtless suffer splits and defeats and ultimately a vote of no confidence precipitating an election long before then – or perhaps the Tories sensing a surge in the opinion polls might go to the nation to try to secure a more workable majority.

Not so, according to what comes next in the coalition agreement :

“legislation will be brought forward to make provision for fixed-term parliaments of five years. This legislation will also provide for dissolution if 55% or more of the House votes in favour.”

Let’s just dissect that a little.

That means that this parliament (not a future one – THIS one) will be able to be brought down by a vote of no confidence – but only if 55% of the MPs vote to do that. Note that this is not 55% of those who vote, but 55% of all MPs. And not just a simple majority of 51% – but 55% – OK not much difference I hear you say, and it introduces a little more stability by discouraging interminable series of confidence votes designed to sabotage the Government of the day.

But how much is 55% – Well it’s 357.5 seats – so as it needs to be more than 55% it would need to be 358 – no half seats. So that would need (typically) : All 258 Labour votes; all 57 Lib Dem Votes; & all 28 of the “other” votes – totalling 343 – so it would also need a further 15 Conservative votes. Actually not quite true – it would also need a further 5 votes – because Sinn Fein would be likely not to vote at all – not to mention anyone who was ill or otherwise engaged on the day of the vote.

So the Conservative Party, with help from the Liberal Democrat party are planning to enact binding legislation –  enacted with a simple majority of those MP’s who turn up to vote – which would ensure that the Conservative Party remained in office for the next 5 years in all circumstances save that when at least 20 of their own number decided to vote against. So actually they could sell the Lib Dems down the river without a second thought – they wouldn’t be able to do a thing about it.

The Conservatives lets remember hold just 306 of the 650 seats – a mere 47% – which they gained with 36.1% of the popular vote, on a turn out of 65.1%  – this represents just 23.5% of the total electorate.

This is the kind of immunity from accountability that is the hallmark of dictators and despots. It is a manoeuvre of which Adolf Hitler would have been proud – effectively preventing opposition to the ruling party.

This is dangerous totalitarianism. It must not be allowed to take it’s place in law. (See this article in the Times Online
Plans for fixed-term Parliaments “not credible” and “dangerous” – says law expert – Law Central – Times Online – WBLG

I’m shocked that the Conservative Party could sink so low.

Astounded that the Liberal democrat party could be so stupid as to be taken in by such a proposal.

Please make people aware of this – it’s a very big issue, which could potentially threaten the liberty of all of us.

As a postscript it seems somewhat laughable that the same section of the Coalition text contains the much vaunted “Power of Recall” – intended to deal with wayward MP’s

“The parties will bring forward early legislation to introduce a power of recall, allowing voters to force a by election where an MP was found to have engaged in serious wrongdoing and having had a petition calling for a by election signed by 10% of his or her constituents.”

Why laughable ?

Well because this occurs only when an MP has been found to have engaged in serious wrongdoing. Which presumably means breaking the law.

And how many of the MPs involved in the expenses scandal have been found guilty of breaking the law ?  Well none yet. There are three on the way though, who may well be, and under the new legislation it would only take a mere 7,000 signatures or so to force a by election. Except that by then they’d probably have been expelled from their parties, and may well already have been replaced (as these three have). In other words a meaningless piece of legislation, which is presumably designed only to deflect attention from the draconian self-protective law making outlined above.

See the Moments of Clarity Blog for more on this : What a fix!! «

or here at 21st Century Fix 21stCenturyFix.org: Cameron apes Berlusconi’s Italy by making it impossible to vote him out

May 12, 2010 - Posted by | politics | , , , , , , ,

20 Comments »

  1. […] more see NorthernHeckler’s blog. Possibly related posts: (automatically generated)Stupid Noynoy calls for a PEOPLE POWER?!My […]

    Pingback by What a fix!! « | May 12, 2010 | Reply

  2. Northern,

    Like you say this is simply outrageous. I think the more we unpick this deal the more we see what hapless dupes the Lib Dems have been, think we really need to do a full factcheck.

    Comment by darrellgoodliffe | May 12, 2010 | Reply

  3. As Aneurin Bevan said about the Tories: “Lower than Vermin”.

    65 years on, they’ve sunk even further.

    Comment by mancunian1001 | May 12, 2010 | Reply

  4. As a general rule, any article which invokes Godwin’s Law in the title is underinformed, reactionary, hysterical horse manure. This article is sadly no exception. Three points:

    1. The Liberal Democrats, far from being taken in by such a proposal, were apparently responsible for its instigation.

    2. It locks the Tories into the coalition, too! Imagine that the Tories did turn around and kick the Lib Dems out. What would happen then? The Tories can’t call an election themselves; they can’t summon the votes. Nor, as you point out, can everyone who isn’t a Tory. And yet no party or parties could credibly form a majority government. So either the Tories would be stuck governing as a minority, or a non-partisan caretaker government would be required to sit out the rest of the term – either way, we get a stalemate for as long as the parliament lasts, until everyone agrees that a new election is in the *national* interest, not just their own party’s. This is progress.

    3. The whole *point* of a fixed term parliament is to make it almost prohibitively difficult for any party or parties to override the fixed term. In Scotland it requires a 2/3 majority; in the USA it would require a Constitutional Amendment. As hurdles go, 55% is likely to be pissed away in the aftermath of the next election – all it really ensures is that the Tories and Lib Dems have to stay in bed with each other for the course of *this* parliament. If even that is too much for you to contemplate, then be honest and admit that you really don’t want fixed term parliaments at all, which is a perfectly legitimate position to take. Indeed, most people advocating fixed term parliaments probably don’t, either; what they want is a means by which the power to call an election is taken out of interested hands – and the only reliable way of doing that, in lieu of a trusted supreme head of state, is to give it to the passage of time.

    Comment by gwenhwyfaer | May 12, 2010 | Reply

    • “The whole *point* of a fixed term parliament is to make it almost prohibitively difficult for any party or parties to override the fixed term” – in which case I don’t want it.

      Re. Hysterical Horse Manure – sticks & stones !

      Comment by northernheckler | May 13, 2010 | Reply

    • I am sorry to crash in like this and apalagise if it cause offence but.
      I really could not disagree more, this has been bugging me all day I have done the math on this in my head when working, have thought through the logic and this is a valid statement the parallel is clear the abuse that this is open to is Literally the same as many of Hitlers abuses of democratic de3vices to gain power . So deriding the use of the metaphor does not make you right, it is a valid one in may exaggerate, am not that familiar with blogs and the etiquette but would really say that I find nothing wrong with the analogy if you would like to explain in detail rather than just say that you don’t like he fact that the message has been shouted.

      It doesn’t surprise me that the “ The Liberal Democrats, far from being taken in by such a proposal, were apparently responsible for its instigation”. It, within context, is a democratic device: but and this is the point, it is not being used within context of a fully functioning PR system , or indeed a codified republic it is being used within a first past the post system with two parties who have disproportionate representation due to the system used. Further the checks and balances appropriate to other systems are not in place. The reason it does not surprise is that the insertion of such a device in the currant circumstances is incredibly stupid and naïve, because the downside implications are so great.
      I will first state the background as I see it that is the negotiations were in essence hardball the Lib “screwed “ the tory for all it could get fair play to them , well maybe, I think they will live to regret this. Anyway there will be dissatisfied people on both sides going forward however the balance of discontent will be on the Tory right, this is because there are more of them and they are the ones who feel they have lost the most, they will compare the coalition to what they would have in a Minority admin and may well see this as preferable going forward. They will have in there minds the knowledge that they do not need the Lib dems that they can ditch them , that they ghave more than 45% of the representatives and cannot be removed from power, therefore they will assert them selves more and more within the coalition as it goes on, they will input in to the debate as to the wording of the referendum, the form of it ,( I take it that this referendum on AV has not already got a fully drafted bill agreed by all) and it may never happen, the Con right may delay or interpret any part of the agreement as they like and seek to influence it no doubt they will have some success.
      In addition the tie in is for five years and unfortunately things happen, the agreement doesn’t really covert this unfortunate realty it covers things as envisaged, who is to say what the future holds yet for five years the tory’s cannot be brought down by the Lib Dems, and others getting together, now this is very wrong as the Torys already have the advantage of getting over 45% of the seats from 36% of the vote. I know that on this point all post war Gov could be criticised, but why oh why make the position even worse by imposing this stupid tie in?
      My objection is to this tie in not the one in Scotland about which I have little knowledge, nor the Amirican ones which are hardly a new kind of politics, and where there is the power of impeachment (Nixon), cheecks and balances (senate, congress, midterms etc) but this gawd awful one in our Parliament with a one sided coalition, an as yet unelected second chamber and the head of state being the Queen.

      Comment by tony | May 13, 2010 | Reply

  5. […] up how staggeringly biased to the Tories these proposals look, including the possibility that they will actually be able to carry on in government without LibDem support once the legislation is […]

    Pingback by Day 1: the day the coalition lost it? « Though Cowards Flinch | May 13, 2010 | Reply

  6. This is rubbish. The proposal is for a new type of motion; a motion calling for a dissolution. The intention is to restore the convention from before WWII, when hung parliaments were common, that a no-confidence motion would not lead to a new election, but rather that it should lead to a new government.

    You can still kick out a PM if you can get a majority; but you have to form a new government from the existing Parliament instead of holding a new General Election

    Comment by Richard Gadsden | May 13, 2010 | Reply

    • If this were true it would be an important qualification of what appears to be a rather different proposal. Do you have a source for this – because it would allay my fears to some extent, and I suspect lots of other people’s too.

      As published the coalition agreement doesn’t appear to indicate this.

      I also can’t help but think that a move towards fixed term parliaments would be more acceptable to many had it not been signaled (before any parliamentary debate) that the fixed term is likely to be the maximum possible term under the current system (ie. 5 years) . I think that many would be more likely to warm to a shorter fixed term – perhaps 3 years ?

      Comment by northernheckler | May 13, 2010 | Reply

    • This is not what I heard on radio 4 this morning, the idea was floated that it said in effect:- Parliment cannot be dissolved, other than as a result of loosing a confidance vote, unless there is a 55% majority.

      Now I am not an Eaton educated Party leader however don’t see being Eaton educated as a bar to producing a simple sentance that makes seense, as such if they between them havn’t produced a sentance that makes seense heaven help us.

      Comment by tony | May 14, 2010 | Reply

    • Another point here and sorry for being disjionted on this I do have trouble with “before the War” times move on and before the War was a different one where the monarch had more sway in constitutional matters (not that I want a return to this, just that it is a fact)the National Gov of the 30’s was brought about by the Monarch refusing to accept the PM’s resignation this just could not happen today could it.

      Comment by tony | May 14, 2010 | Reply

  7. The current situation is that the Commons has NO power to dissolve parliament. Fixed term parliaments are just that – governments may fall, but the MPs stay for the term other than as a last resort.

    So this change introduced fixed term parliaments, gives MPs the power to dissolve parliament for the first time and goes some way to preventing a PM from engineering a dissolution for party benefit, as happens at the moment.

    Again, this does NOT fix the government, which can be voted down by a simple majority of MPs.

    Comment by Iain | May 13, 2010 | Reply

    • As I understand it if a Government is not carrying the confidence of the House, a Vote of No confidence can be carried by a simple majority, and this obliges the Prime Minister to take this up with the monarch of the day – the Prime Minister may choose to dissolve Parliament and hold a General Election.

      The Government as far as I can tell, is effectively fixed – although of course can still be defeated in votes on particular legislation.

      Comment by northernheckler | May 13, 2010 | Reply

  8. Well spoted was about to ask peeps about doing something about this how can ANYONE be so stupid as to agree to this it means that the TORY’s have a compleatly one sided agrement with your permission I am going to link this page and try and highlight it to peeps Someone has to stop this even if it is the House of Lords.

    Comment by tony | May 13, 2010 | Reply

    • Feel free to link back. Also happy to link to any similar posts

      Comment by northernheckler | May 13, 2010 | Reply

  9. Looking at the pro posts I really think that my response was inadaquate, the appeal of a super majority is clear and the application is widespread notably for ammendments to the US constitution, impeachment etc. However the machanics have to be looked act in this scanario, UK the achievment of a super majority of representatives from a first past post systerm is raising the bar to high. It means that the representaives of over 70% of the voters have to vote for it. Within the context of an agreement by two parties one of whom has more than 45% of the representatives it is a whooly one sided agrement, that is the Party with 45%+ can act as it likes, the other party cannot leave the agrement and bring it to an end. Millions of people who voted Lib Dem could be disenfranchised by this, as could millions of people who voted Labour. The power of the representatives of millions of people has been weakened this is disenfranchisment and is wrong.

    Comment by tony | May 13, 2010 | Reply

  10. thirdly on Godwins Law in this instance is it that Hitler actually abused a Democratic PR systerm or device for tyrinacle purposes, and the downside of this agrement is a simalar tyranacle abuse of a supposedly democratic device, (the fact that niether of the leaders are actually hugely popular not detracting from the clasical usage of the word tyrany).

    Comment by tony | May 13, 2010 | Reply

  11. […] would still only be able to amass 53% of the vote in any bid to oust the Tories.  Indeed, as explained here, it would take 20 Conservative rebels to vote against their own party for parliament to pass a […]

    Pingback by “If the Führer wants it, two and two makes five!” « Nick Smart | May 14, 2010 | Reply

  12. […] reading: Northern Heckler does an almighty piece of dissection on this subject here.  Well worth a visit. More  Cameron apes Berlusconi’s Italy by making it […]

    Pingback by Cameron apes Berlusconi’s Italy by making it impossible to vote him out » 21stCenturyFix.org.uk | April 11, 2012 | Reply


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