Posts Tagged ‘fixed term parliaments’

Ed is right to wait on policy, fixed term parliaments have changed the rhythm of politics

27/08/2013, 07:00:29 AM

by Ian Moss

In the summer of 2007 regional offices of the Labour party distributed leaflets to its constituencies and held briefing meetings with ward organisers to discuss the campaign plan for the forthcoming general election. Gordon Brown and his team kept open the possibility of going to the country whilst torturing themselves internally on whether to take the risk only two years into the third term Labour government.

As we all know this event is now commonly known as ‘the election that never was’. The point of regurgitating the painful memories of that story for everyone who watched it slowly reach its inevitable denouement is to emphasise one simple point: before the Fixed Term Parliaments Act of 2011 not even the government knew when the election was going to be and they were the ones that had the power to call it.

The Act has changed the rhythm of politics. At this time in the political cycle the government and opposition used to be playing a game of chicken over the election. Will they go the full term? Will they call early? How is the economic cycle looking? etc. etc. Instead, pretty much every major figure in politics went on a good long holiday.

This was sensible and calculated. They all know the election is in 2015, they all know next summer they will be in the middle of the long slog of a campaign that will last more than a year, starting in the autumn, and they all want to make sure they had a good break this summer so they can be prepared for it.

Why not?  The voters are switched off for the summer as well, and the political campaign over August is really an absurd prisoner’s dilemma. Every party thinks they have to do it because the other parties are. Every year the political parties spend their summers boxing shadows, or each other.  Every cabinet minister knows that this time next year they will be expected not to leave the country, to be on call, and to be attending campaign events across the UK.


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Fixed term parliaments means maximum two-term prime ministers

17/01/2011, 07:00:55 AM

by John Woodcock

David Cameron’s days as prime minister are numbered. But Ed Miliband is not going to last in the top job as long as Tony Blair did.

It is not that I have been afflicted with a career-limiting combination of nostalgia for past Labour leaders and naïve over-enthusiasm after a single by-election win.

My predictions on the longevity of the current prime minister and his would-be successor stem in fact from a little-considered consequence of fixed term parliaments: namely, that they may well unintentionally place a US-style two-term limit on anyone’s stay at number ten. (And before anyone starts, I am not saying that I think Mr Cameron is on course for a win in 2015. He is not).

But let’s assume for a moment that governments will not generally collapse mid-term and trigger unexpected early elections. For all the trauma currently being experienced by the Liberal Democrats, those at the top are strapped into their ministerial priuses so securely that it is very hard to see them breaking away early. (more…)

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