Monday, October 08, 2007
For starters the real problem behind the recent undignified ‘Dance of The Seven Gordons’ is that the UK has not really abolished arbitrary Royal Powers. They have just migrated to the ‘Prime Minister in Parliament’. Tackling this complex of arbitrary ‘Henry VIII powers’ is the real constitutional challenge, and making Parliamentary election cycles absolutely rigid may be a bit of a distraction.
Rigid fixed term Parliaments have their disadvantages – as can be seen today in the desperate scrabbling in the US political system to cope with a totally discredited but essentially non-removable fixed term executive.
I hope we can have a proper debate on a flexible constitutional structure for our Parliament rather than a simplistic outcry on fixed terms. I do have a couple of suggestions in the back of my mind which I will mull over.
(For the record I think that the US Constitution is a remarkable document with some historic successes in carrying the US through extreme crisis, but which has serious design flaws some of which present real threats to US political health. Changing this is almost impossible.)
And a non-fixed term doesn't really help with a discredited parliament that still has a majority. The Tories were inevitably going to lose the election whenever they called it after Black Wednesday, but they held on to the last second, because their majority held up and because they could.
If you want a recall provision, then argue for a recall provision, but that has little to do with fixed-term or non-fixed-term parliaments.