Friday, 2 January 2015

Daily Telegraph: This Act of folly has condemned us to five years of political torment

Daily Telegraph: This Act of folly has condemned us to five years of political torment

Fraser Nelson explains why fixed-term parliaments was one of David Cameron's worst ideas.


To survive this, a prime minister needs the ability to threaten a new election. But in an act of immense folly, Cameron signed away this power in the Fixed-term Parliaments Act. It was intended as a wedding ring to slip over Nick Clegg’s finger, a promise that he would not betray him by calling a snap election at an inopportune time. But instead of making this promise for just one parliament, Mr Cameron changed the rules for good. So if things get sticky after May 2015, then neither he nor Ed Miliband will be able to seek a new mandate, as Harold Wilson was able to do in 1974.

In theory, the new British rules mean a snap election can be called if two-thirds of MPs want one – but opposition and government are unlikely ever to agree on an election date. A ''no-confidence’’ motion can still trigger an election, but this leaves power with the opposition leader. And most politicians are sadists who love the sight of their opposite number going through hell. If, for example, Ed Miliband is foolish enough to do a deal with the Scottish National Party then he’ll spend five years being tortured by Alex Salmond (whose agenda, of course, is the destruction of the United Kingdom). Why would a Tory leader – Boris Johnson, for example – want to stop this horror show? Far better let it last, so voters permanently associate Labour with weakness and chaos.

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