Sunday 16 May 2010

Free thinkers

Independently minded MPs who don't just follow the party line are popular. But there's a fine line between principled opposition and being a self indulgent pain - and you can usually spot the line. The coalition will give an opportunity for both Lib Dem and Conservative awkward squads to posture, not least because they have lost influence and therefore power. (Their Labour equivalents will be occupied for a few months with their leadership election).

The first signs of the self indulgent pains are emerging as backbenchers line up against the proposed fixed term arrangements.

My problem is that I can't see what the problem is. Given the real problems facing the country, who cares whether we have fixed term parliaments or not? There are good arguments for them - and against. On balance, it's probably a good thing because it puts more power in the hands of backbenchers rather then minsiters. But it's hardly a big deal.

And if we do have fixed term parliaments then surely they should be just that - fixed term. So you must have an arrangment to stop the term ending too easily, especially if there's a hung parliament. So a 55% requirement for dissolution seems fair enough. In practice, if over half of MPs have no confidence in a Government then it will fail.

So why the fuss? I can see Labour simply want to stir, but I don't understand why the Conservatives would complain. Except as a token gesture of dislike for the coalition. It'll be interesting to see if this protest is just a one off self indulgent release of tension or if the taste for dissent will be catching. I hope not; and I hope that voters identify those MPs who are self indulgent rather then principled. And punish them. Even if it takes 5 years to do so.

No comments: