Thursday, 13 May 2010

A fixed term problem

A few days ago, I was discussing with Jeff & James the idea that the Tory-Lib Dem coalition (or indeed the Lib-Lab pact, as it could have been at the stage we were talking) might last only a year, and that the next election to the UK Parliament could end up being in May 2011, on the same day as the election to the Scottish Parliament - the first Thursday in May.

Both James and Jeff thought this would be a smart move by whoever was the larger party (if it had been Labour, all the better for them) for they would be able to squeeze the SNP in the Holyrood campaign by making them "irrelevant" to the UK election.  I argued that, given we've had to decouple Holyrood & Council elections because of difficulties interpreting where to put an X and where to put a number, AND ALSO that the boundaries were so different for Holyrood and Westminster elections (with the example of Edinburgh Central for Holyrood split 5 ways for Westminster) would make it near impossible, and that there was no way it could happen.

Well, while that might be the case in 2011 - assuming the Tory-LD government survives - I might not be that sure of my argument now.

The rules of the Scottish Parliament have stipulated from the very beginning that elections will take place on the first Thursday of May every four years from 1999.  That happened in 2003 and 2007, and will happen next year (2011).  It should also occur in 2015.

However, Dave & Nick's new happy band have decided that there will be 5-year fixed term parliaments for the House of Commons.  Given the election last week was on the first Thursday in May, the next election would be schedule for the first Thursday in May 2015.  The same day as the Scottish Parliament (and indeed, Welsh Assembly) election.

So, a problem on the horizon - and an example of how the new UK Government has already not taken into account the devolution dimension of UK politics.

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