Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Pre-emptive delegitimisation

Today the government announced its constitutional review. Over on Pundit, Andrew Geddis makes some predictions about its recommendations. Among those, a four-year term:

The recommendation will be to move to a 4 year parliamentary term, with fixed election dates as the quid-pro-quo. The "inside the beltway" view is that 3 years just isn't enough time to get government business done, but the public just won't vote for extending the parliamentary term. A recommendation that this should happen - tied to a fixed term, to take that advantage away from the PM - will allow MPs to do it for themselves.
Let's squish this now. The idea of MPs doing it themselves is absolutely illegitimate. There should be no extension of the Parliamentary term unless it is endorsed by a referendum.

The problem for MPs (who overwhelmingly want this, under the guise of "better governance", frequent accountability to us dirty peasants apparently being a Bad Thing), is that it has been overwhelmingly defeated every time it has been put to the vote. We were asked about extending the term in 1967, and again in 1990; in each case, we overwhelmingly voted "no" (68.1% against in 1967, 69.3% against in 1990). Against this background, a cosy collusion between National and Labour to extend the term would look grossly undemocratic.

Politicians need to understand: its our constitution, not theirs. And we should have the final say on major changes. Anything else is simply illegitimate.