Wednesday, 19 May 2010

I Agree With Caroline

I just heard last weeks Any Questions on iplayer, what a great debate. Caroline showed just how good she would have been in the leaders debate, what a shame that was reserved for big parties only. A few times I heard the others say they agreed with her, the audience was certainly behind her.

They all agreed she would make a bid difference, even as a lone Green. What must be remembered with Caroline, is that unlike the other party leaders, she has fought her way up to this from nothing. She was the first Green councillor in Oxford - and only the second Green county councillor to be elected in the UK. Then she became the first Green MEP (jointly with Jean Lambert). So she has earned being the first Green MP, and will know what to do in Parliament. She quoted Gandi: “Even if you are a minority of one, the truth is the truth.”

A few thoughts from the discussion. The Con Dems think they have made a great deal. And on some issues we will need time to judge the effect. But what I want to look at now is the way the deal was done. Fair enough they had to make a backroom deal.

One of the biggest criticisms of Brown and Blair was that announcements were made outside the House of Commons. So before parliament has opened we had a series of announcements. No debate or discussion.

1. Fixed term 5 year parliament. I have my doubts about this, in the USA it means 5 year election campaigns. However if thats the will of parliament, after a proper debate, fair enough. But with no debate, many issues will not have been considered.

'The Tories might not have realised that the first Thursday in May 2015 is also a Holyrood election day, but the Lib Dems with their Scottish contingent surely did. A five year "first Thursday in May" would clash with Holyrood every 20 years. Even if you had to have five year terms, why that one day?'

Australia and New Zealand both have three-year maximum terms. The legislatures of Canada and many of its provinces have four-year fixed terms, as do most Australian states. The devolved legislatures in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland all have four-year fixed terms. Ireland’s lower house has a five-year maximum, as in the UK. So a five year term is long by comparison with most other similar systems.

‘We need more debate about whether the term should be four or five years’ Prof Hazell of UCL said. ‘All other Westminster parliaments which have set a fixed term have gone for four years. There also needs to be more thought about how Westminster’s fixed terms will fit with other electoral cycles. 2015 is the date for devolved elections. Do we want Westminster elections at the same time as those for the Scottish Parliament, and Welsh and Northern Ireland Assemblies?’

Have they considered local elections across the country? In a proper debate all such issues would have been considered, and a solution reached.

2. Recall of Parliament needs 55% of MPs. So if every non Tory MP should decide to vote against the Tories, thats 53%, we would still have a ConDem alliance! Seems a bit odd to me.

Of the 'four central policy commitments' the LibDems think they have achieved.
'Tax reform has been watered down to the point of being regressive, there is an AV – not PR – referendum, the other political reforms that were set out to be achieved are largely sidelined to nothing more than committees or aspirations, the pupil premium was already in the Tory manifesto, they will have to abstain if there is a proposal for tuition fees to be uncapped (even though some LibDem MPs are confused and think they can go against this – that will be interesting) and they are not helping the enviroment – they have just welcomed the creation of even more nuclear power.'

Just not being Gordon Brown is good enough to make people happy for a few days. But being as undemocratic as him will soon put as back in the same place.

As a Green I am most concerned about unfair taxes, nuclear power and nuclear weapons. As to reducing emissions, it seems the ConDems may be bbetter then Labour, but thats more to do with Labour being bad than the other two being any good. All three talk the Green language on occasion; for years we have seen Labour pretend to lead the world on Green issues while fail to achieve anything serious. I await the ConDems on this with interest.


howard thomas said...

Fixed terms are good ,but 4 years would be more suitable, no more mucking about like GB did, just trying to engineeer a good time to call the election!
The term in the States is 4 years , so the 5 year election campaign would seem to be a little odd!

Adrian Windisch said...

If after a proper debate Parliament decided on 5 years then fair enough. I don't like that its a done deal with no discussion.

With a Euroelection every 5 years a GE every 4 would clash on occasion.