Friday, 14 May 2010

Gleichschaltung - an update

Update on THIS ARTICLE - please read -

The Scottish Situation

I am concerned that the Con/Dem coalition are using the Scottish experience - ie. the 66% requirement of members supporting dissolution - out of context.

One Tory commentator on BBC News 24 this morning has stated that this 66% was brought in by the "Labour Party" last year. This, first of all, does not ring true, as any documentation I have managed to find seems to go back at least until 2001 and if it was only introduced last year, it would have been the SNP Government who would have done so.

This use of the Scottish requirement for 66% seems to be the only defence the ConDem coalition are using that will ensure continuance of a Tory minority Government if the Liberals walk away from any agreement. I feel any misinformation should be countered - and I feel it is imperative that MSP's explain the thinking behind 66% in Scotland. (It has to be remembered the Scottish Government elections are STV and have a term of only four years - so the ground is quite different from the 5 year term first past the post system in Westminster).

This is at the very least, an attack on the integrity of our Devolved Parliament.

If the 66% was debated and discussed cross party - and it was cross party agreement that had it implimented, then it differs greatly from this proposal of 55% by the Tories and Lib Dems in Westminster.

In effect this 55% will mean that regardless of the coalition, and regardless of a plethora of no-confidence motions the Tories will remain in power for five years and ensure the Scottish budget is decided by a tiny minority only representative of 15 % of the Scottish voting public.

I have not yet been able to find the debates/discussions that led to this figure of 66%.

I will update as I find more information on the Scottish situation.


Anonymous said...

Ummm, no. The 55% dissolution rule wouldn't allow a Tory minority government to continue. If they lost a vote of no confidence (at >50%) Cameron would have to resign and the opposition would have a chance to form a new government.

Campsie Scottish Socialist Party said...

Ummm, yes. I think you should read the article.

Campsie Scottish Socialist Party said...

Ummm, especially this bit - "But how much is 55% – Well it’s 357.5 seats – so as it needs to be more than 55% it would need to be 358 – no half seats. So that would need (typically) : All 258 Labour votes; all 57 Lib Dem Votes; & all 28 of the “other” votes – totalling 343 – so it would also need a further 15 Conservative votes. Actually not quite true – it would also need a further 5 votes – because Sinn Fein would be likely not to vote at all – not to mention anyone who was ill or otherwise engaged on the day of the vote.
So the Conservative Party, with help from the Liberal Democrat party are planning to enact binding legislation - enacted with a simple majority of those MP’s who turn up to vote – which would ensure that the Conservative Party remained in office for the next 5 years in all circumstances save that when at least 20 of their own number decided to vote against."

Anonymous said...

No. You're confusing dissolution with a vote of no confidence. They're not the same thing.

Like I said, if the government loses a vote of no confidence - at >50% - the PM has to resign. This is the case now, and it would be after any changes. The opposition can then form a new government if they are able to - with no dissolution of parliament and subsequent election required.

If the opposition is able to form a government, they can kick the Tories out of office. This 55% dissolution rule would not prevent that.

The change is that, at the moment, the PM can call an election if he feels like - after a vote of no confidence, yes, or at any other time.

With this 55% dissolution rule, he can't do that. If he loses a vote of no confidence, he has to give the opposition a chance to form a government from the existing MPs.

If they weren't able to form a government, then we'd be looking at an election (either from 55% of MPs passing a motion to dissolve, or from a 28-day rule similar to that used for the Scottish Assembly).

Campsie Scottish Socialist Party said...

No - this is the confusion that was sewn over the past couple of days. It has since been clarified by both Tory and Lib dem representatives. See here -

Anonymous said...

Er... no, that doesn't say anything of the sort.

Stunnel is correct to say "It prevents a surprise attack on the Conservatives by everybody else: it is as simple as that" - but it does so by removing Cameron's power to call an election whenever he feels like it, not by changing the rules of a vote of no confidence.

Once again. This change stops Cameron, as PM, calling an election. This is what "prevents a surprise attack by the Conservatives" and "guarantees the stability that was required for this Parliament".

It does not stop an opposition majority passing a vote of no confidence and forming a new government (without an election). It does not allow a Tory minority government to continue in office in all circumstances.

There is a case that it should be higher than 55% (66% is typical) to prevent (for example, in our current circumstances) the Lib Dems and Tories launching a surprise election on Labour, but the idea that it somehow allows the Tories to stay in office no matter what is plainly and simply wrong.

Campsie Scottish Socialist Party said...

Still beg to differ - you need to read the figures!

And to compare with a 4 year term, stv - MORE representative Scottish Parliament is disengenuous.

This is to consolidate power - and it is to stem the democratic mechanism of no-confidence...

Anonymous said...

I have read the figures, but, as I said, those relate to a dissolution motion (which would be a new thing, replacing the PM's ability to dissolve parliament), not to a vote of no confidence! They're two different things!

A vote of no confidence can result in a replacement of government, without an election. This would not change.

Dissolution is currently at the whim of the PM. He may (and usually does) choose to do it following a vote of no confidence, but it's not a requirement. This would change to be the 55% requirement.

The only difference is that Cameron couldn't choose to call an election. But the opposition can still take over via a vote of no confidence - the Tories could not, as a minority, stay in office in all circumstances. This rule would not allow that. It can't be done.

It is true that the present opposition can't call an election either with a 55% rule, lacking the numbers, but that's the point - with a fixed term system you're not supposed to be able to just call an election!

If anything, 55% is too low since it does allow the current coalition to call an election. 66% is more normal.

Campsie Scottish Socialist Party said...

I wont argue any more with you. I have been clear about what i and many others (including legal people - and MP's across the political divides) think about this. You are mistaken to think that regardless of this a Govt could be taken down in a vote of no confidence... the case at the moment is that a vote of no confidence in say, the Queens speech, could take down a govt. With this, they can over ride that pressure.

The 66% thing is a disengenuity that Cameron has just used while speaking in the Scots Parliament.

Watch this space for more soon.

Anonymous said...

"the case at the moment is that a vote of no confidence in say, the Queens speech, could take down a govt. With this, they can over ride that pressure."

No they couldn't. Cameron would be just as obliged to resign following a vote of no confidence as he is now. He could also refuse to dissolve parliament now. This changes nothing in that regard.

What exactly is it that makes you think this would allow him to simply ignore a vote of no confidence in a way he can't already?

Campsie Scottish Socialist Party said...

As I have said - read the articles - all the answers are there :)

Anonymous said...

"As I have said - read the articles - all the answers are there :)"

I have read them. The answers are not. One also thinks a vote of no confidence would require 55%. It wouldn't. The articles you're relying on are wrong.

Here's a specific example for you. In January 1924, Stanley Baldwin as PM lost a vote no confidence. He did not call another election. He resigned immediately and Ramsay MacDonald took over at the head of a new government.

That is the scenario you would be looking at if a vote of no confidence was passed against Cameron (except instead of choosing not to call an election, he would be unable to without the support of 55% of the House).

So what exactly allows him to stay in office in that scenario? Nothing. He couldn't. It's as simple as that.

Neil said...

More on the dissolution - and the Scottish experience - here -

More to come.

Anonymous said...

Regarding the 66% threshold for a Dissolution vote in the Scottish Parliament:

It *was* put in by Labour, via the Scotland Act 1998, which created the Scottish Parliament in the first place:

see "not less than two-thirds"

"Extraordinary general elections.

— (1) The Presiding Officer shall propose a day for the holding of a poll if—
the Parliament resolves that it should be dissolved and, if the resolution is passed on a division, the number of members voting in favour of it is not less than two-thirds of the total number of seats for members of the Parliament, or
any period during which the Parliament is required under section 46 to nominate one of its members for appointment as First Minister ends without such a nomination being made.
(2) If the Presiding Officer makes such a proposal, Her Majesty may by proclamation under the Scottish Seal—
dissolve the Parliament and require an extraordinary general election to be held,
require the poll at the election to be held on the day proposed, and
require the Parliament to meet within the period of seven days beginning immediately after the day of the poll.

Phil Ruse said...

I think a lot of the misunderstanding comes from some inaccurate reporting from the BBC which itself mistook "no confidence" for "dissolution" & then quoted a constitution expert based on that misunderstanding.

As it is a simple majority will still be enough to force the government out. The changes are all to do with "fixed term parliaments" - under such systems should a government fail then parliament is expected to create a new government usually from the opposition parties rather than resort to a general election.

Therefore with "fixed term parliaments" they set the dissolution at a high percentage as it is seen as something that should be an exceptional event and not something that can be done by the government of the day because of short term popularity - or even the opposition due to a lack of popularity at a particular point in time.

Indeed the main criticism is that if this is to be a proper "fixed term parliament" then the dissolution percentage should be higher than that proposed since it still allows Lib+Con vote to dissolve - though personally I think that unlikely to happen.