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No to 55%

Tom Harris acknowledges that Labour lost the election and accept that the new government has the democratic legitimacy to govern. There are many policies which will be introduced in the next few years. But it is utterly unacceptable to redraw the rules of parliament and of democracy – not to mention the rules of arithmetic – simply to ensure that ministers hold onto their portfolios for as long as possible.

The plan is to scrap the centuries-old convention that when any government loses the confidence of the Commons, it must resign and parliament must be dissolved. Instead, 55 per cent of the Commons must support a no-confidence motion. ..
But why 55 per cent, you may well ask? Why not 51, or 54 or 58 or 65…?
Could it be that this magic number is based on the fact that the Tories already have 47 per cent of the seats in the Commons? Surely the LibDems would never be stupid enough to fall for such a cynical confidence trick?
Can someone answer me this (and it’s a genuine question): which LibDem or Tory politician – or indeed, politician of any other party – has ever publicly supported such a radical and anti-democratic perversion of our constitution in the past? Did it feature in either party’s manifesto at the election? Or any previous manifestos?

Quite, it is a cynical anti democratic stitch up. A majority is a majority.


Do the arguments expressed here make much sense? That it is to hold the coalition together and also prevents even the Conservatives from calling an election when they want.

We don't agree that it's a stitch up, because we see this differently.

We think it means that the party in power will be unable to choose to call an election early (at a good time politically) unless they have >55% MPs behind them.

The Scotland Act rules for a vote of 65% to force an election in Scotland.

Mrs Rigby appears to be correct, the Coalition document does not refer to a "confidence vote" but to a "vote on the dissolution" which are different animals. 50%+1 votes will be enough to thow out a governemnet that cannot command the confidence of the Commons.

A minimum dissolution vote is necessary to make sense of fixed term parliaments. In a sense the current system has a fixed term parliament in that it cannot extend beyond 5 years. The vote on a dissolution simply means that the governing party cannot use its majority to go to the country on a time of its choosing as Brown did.

So Callaghan would have stayed in 1979, but Blair could have still gone with his 55% in 2001 and 2005. Strong governments can cut and run, but weak ones must stay until the bitter end. Sensible? This has nothing to do with fixed parliaments, and everything to do with the numbers involved in this coalition.

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