Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Davis Attacks the 'Britvic' Clause

David Davis has written a good piece for today's Telegraph on the Britvic Clause. You can read the article HERE.


Ralph Lucas said...

A well-argued piece, but he does not address the question of how you have fixed-term parliaments in a first-past-the-post parliament without a 55% (or as I prefer 66%) clause.

If, like me, he sees no answer to that question, then his opposition is to fixed term parliaments, and 55% is just a sideshow.

Anonymous said...

Sorry, Iain, but Davis has not written 'a good piece'.

Like many other commentators, he is confusing parliament with government. He isn't thick, so I can only suppose that he is doing so for political (in the bad sense) reasons.

The proposal says that a government may lose a no confidence vote on a simple majority. No change there. But that a super majority is needed to dissolve parliament.

In a fixed term parliament, a government might well lose a vote of confidence; but why should this trigger a new election -- it's supposedly a fixed term parliament, after all? What should happen in this case is that attempts to form a government from existing parliamentarians ought to occur, without going back to the electorate.

It's not a difficult concept. In fact, the only thing wrong with the 55% is that the actual figure is too low -- it was obviously chosen simply for political expediency in the current circumstances. Two thirds would be more like it.

Davis is just being an a**hole. Like many on the right, he will jump on any old cobblers he thinks he can use to undermine the coalition that we have; and which many of us who didn't vote for it actually quite like.

Sean said...

The USA manages quite well having a FPTP government with fixed terms.

Tom King said...

Morlock has adequately summarised why this is certainly not a 'good article'.

These people are either stupid or dishonest.

Unknown said...

It seems to me that Davis liked everything about the coalition agreement until he realised that he was not to be a part of it. No surprises there considering his selfish past acts.
He then set about finding something to disagree about and cause an unnecessary fuss right at the beginning of the new government.
He really is a self righteous pain in the arse.

Span Ows said...

I have to agree entirely with Morlock. Why is it that some of the media (understandably) and David (not so understandably) misunderstand the concept here and that is that a 50% +1 vote is UNCHANGED for a vote of no confidence and that the new 55% rule is for the dissolution of parliament ONLY, and NOT kicking out the government.

HarveyR said...

As with other commenters above, I think Davis' piece just reveals how hoplessly confused he is on this matter. Either that, or he is being deliberately mischevious. If he truly does think that there should be a fixed term he has to tell us how he would prevent an incumbent government from simply dissolving Parliament whenever it is convenient, rather than necessary by calling on its 50% + 1 majority.

It is perfectly possible to reconcile having a vote of no confidence carried by 50% + 1 with a barrier on a vote on dissolution requiring a super majority. It need not result in the zombie government he conjurs up.

Morlock, above, explains it perfectly. Losing a vote of no confidence puts any future PM in EXACTLY the same position Gordon Brown recently found himself. He would have to first see if he could build an alternative government which would command a majority or, failing that, resign and ask the Queen to call on someone else. If no one else could form a government, the last resort would be for the Queen to dissolve Parliament.

Unknown said...

This line: "The requirement for a 55 per cent majority to dissolve parliament, and thereby dismiss a government, dramatically reduces the ability of Parliament to hold the executive to account." undermines David's argument.

There is a difference between a vote of no confidence in the government and a vote to disolve parliament. I can't understand the difficulty that so many people have in understanding that.

Anonymous said...

David Davis is such a self-promoting self-interested ass that he makes Mr. Dale appear a shy and retiring hermit suffering from a bad case of agoraphobia who's lost his voice and can't find his front door key.

I think that adequately sums up the raison d'etre of Davis' interest in this cause.

Alex said...

"The requirement for a 55 per cent majority to dissolve parliament, and thereby dismiss a government, dramatically reduces the ability of Parliament to hold the executive to account."

Wrong, a government is dismissed on a loss of a vote of confidence. It is appalling that we pay £65k and expenses to MPs when they don't have the intelligence to understand what is going on.

Libertarian said...

@ Sean Haffey

"The USA manages quite well having a FPTP government with fixed terms."

Yes but in the US the voters actually get to vote for the government in their FPTP system. In this country we don't we just get to vote for a person chosen by party head office to stand locally.

Until we have real democracy NO voting system of any kind works.

An end to rotten boroughs and a directly elected government is the ONLY real democratic solution

p smith said...

Whatever one thinks about that the 55% proposal, it has not been thought through at all and the ConDems have left it to the blogosphere to spell out how it might work. Despite being quizzed on it, neither Hague or Cameron were able to articulate that the proposal will not affect the ability of the House to bring a government down by a confidence motion. One would have expected them to do so if they understood it and at least mapped out what the safeguards would be. The reality is that this was sketched out on the back of a fag packet and they don't know the detail.

While there is an argument to be made for a mechanism to ensure a fixed term parliament, the answer cannot be a 55% threshold. It would still allow the ConDem coalition to seek a dissolution at a time of their choosing (they coincidentally have 56% of the votes between them) so, as it stands, this measure is undemocratic and an abomination.

If, at all, the threshold should be higher and it MUST be accompanied by a provision similar to that in Holyrood whereby there is a set waiting period (say 28 days) in which another coalition of parties can form together and demonstrate that they do command the confidence of the House. If no one can pass a confidence motion then a dissolution must be triggered.

Perhaps they will eventually spell something like this out but I wouldn't bet on it. The fact that they would choose the 55% figure (rather than 50% or 66%) suggests that party political advantage is the prime motivating factor here.

Anonymous said...

David Davis suffers from vanity. What he has written is a political mischief and the purpose is to undermine the coalition. Again, his thinking is as falwed as his thinking was when he resigned and created a by-election. Labour made this a non-event (he should have known what Labour would do) by not putting up a candidate. Cameron is right to keep him out of the govt as he correctly judged him as an unreliable and self-promoting vain person.

Jimmy said...

"Either that, or he is being deliberately mischevious."

Heaven forbid.