"This parliament will last for 5 years" he declared confidently as he emerged blinking into the spring morning. "The next election will be held on 7th May 2015" . Fixed term parliaments were a done deal, despite no mention before the election. Hmmmm, I wonder why 5 years.... Could it be that they were about to make such a mash up of the country, that only 5 years might see any hope of a light at the end of the tunnel? Why 5 and not the more usual 4?
Alongside this constitutional bombshell, we heard that parliament would now require a vote of 55% or more to dissolve itself. With a combined Lib/Con seat tally of 364, it meant that to get rid of the Tories, parliament would need to dredge up 357.5 MPs to vote them out. Considering that ALL non Tory MPs add up to 343, it would mean that 14 (and a half) of their own MPs would need to vote against their own party for the government to fall. No-one was sure whether this applied to votes of no confidence or not - even their own MPs. "Oh but it will make democracy more stable" purred Tiger-Willie (in the way that Zimbabwe and other dictatorships are "stable" I presume?) "Labour did this in Scotland and Wales" they soothed. "Oh did they? Well I'm not happy about that either."
As far as I know today, (seemingly supported by previous link) votes of no confidence will still pass on the traditional 50% + 1 vote, but then what? You can't get rid of the government that have lost our confidence. "It's to give time (14 days) for an alternative government to be formed" they assured. Then they decided to go with 66% to dissolve parliament anyway. Two thirds. If this lot really do fail spectacularly, it's going to take a pretty incredible vote to get rid of them.
Then we have the reduction of MPs from 650 to 600. Of course, when the idea was first put to David Cameron, it's unlikely anyone came to him and said, "Look Dave, this will lose you seats, but it's right for democracy" **Before anyone dares to tell me it's all to redress a current built in bias against the Tories blah blah please read this by Anthony Wells at UKPR, or you'll just look ignorant.
That tiger is slurping again! Does anyone in the country actually believe it was to reduce the cost of parliament? Fewer MPs would be a good thing? Well, if they do, a few squints at the likely outcome should put them straight. Would it surprise anyone to know that it's extremely unlikely that seats will be lost in Sussex, Surrey or Berkshire? If I then go on to say that the worst affected areas are likely to be Scotland, Wales and the North are you starting to see a pattern here? How many southern seats are Labour? How many in Scotland and Wales Tory? Just to be sure it all goes through though, they're removing the right of local boundary appeals. (Oh, just to complete the mockery, it wasn't going to work in three seats, so they're to be excluded from the new rules on constituency size. And they're all LibDem!! How about that!!)
Today, Michael Crick reports for the BBC that
"a new unit has been set up inside Conservative HQ to manage the process in an orderly fashion, and to fulfil a promise recently made by David Cameron to the 1922 that no Conservative MP would lose out from the reduction in the total number of MPs from 650 down to 600"Come on guys! At least keep up the pretence that this is democratic.
Then, to really nibble our ear lobes, those Tiger-Tories, wrapped it all up in the same bill with the AV referendum. Any points of argument or dissent look like hypocrisy. To oppose gerrymandering, we must oppose AV! Which we don't oppose! Strategy wise, even I'm impressed.
So, nice work Shere Khan! You really put together a package didn't you? You are in the process of making our country even more undemocratic and most of it's already been passed. When the Lords sat up all night on their recent filibuster, there were some very, very, important issues at stake, but hey, let's not knock "cats in wheelie bins" or the "wrong kind of snow" off the news eh?
We can protest against cuts, write to MPs about student fees and blog about the NHS until we're blue in the face, but actually, all the while we're happy to allow these constitutional changes to go through, quietly unchallenged, we might as well give up. Without at least a semblance of a democratic Parliament, we have no power anyway.