Cameron needs to stop the BS, remember his studies and behave like a statesman/person

It’s ten o’clock and the polls have just closed all over the country. From St Agnes island hall in the south to North Unst Public Hall in the north, the presiding officers have just locked the doors and are preparing the ballot boxes for transportation to the local counting centre. I can now say what I like!

There has been much dangerous talk in the election campaign. David Cameron has implied that a government with the tacit support of Scottish MPs would somehow be illegitimate. He has accused Ed Miliband of preparing a “con trick” to enter Downing Street with the support of the SNP. Even Nick Clegg has joined in by referring to a “coalition of the losers” – being a possible bloc of MPs led by the leader of the second largest party.

All this sort of talk must now stop.

David Cameron is actually a graduate in Politics, Philosophy and Economics from one of our foremost colleges, Brasenose College, Oxford. He studied the constitution under one of this country’s leading constitutional experts, Professor Vernon Bogdanor. He now needs to remember his studies.

Of course, the numbers which emerge from the votes cast today, and in the last few weeks, are not known at the moment. But, dependent on those numbers, David Cameron needs to now stop being a campaign politician and needs to start being a statesman, or statesperson. He needs to educate the public in our constitution and, if necessary as the results emerge, show dignity in relieving himself of the burden of office and facilitating a dignified handover to Ed Miliband.

There is a dearth of knowledge about the constitution of this country amongst the public. Lord Ashcroft has found that many people regard the prospect of the leader of the second largest party becoming PM as “cheating”. Even respected members of the fourth estate haven’t sufficiently studied the Fixed-Term Parliaments Act 2011.

The press and politicians on all sides now need to educate those members of the public who are not fully aware of the basics of our constitution.

We are a parliamentary democracy. You vote for the person to represent you in parliament. You don’t primarily vote for their party, because they could defect and they would still be your MP. The MPs who have been elected to the Commons have the right to pass a vote of no confidence in a government (which may be led by the leader of the largest party) and pass a vote of confidence within 14 days in another government (which may be led by the leader of the second largest party). That is not only perfectly legitimate, it is what our constitution dictates, as articulated in the Fixed-Term Parliaments Act and the Cabinet Manual, agreed by all sides and signed by David Cameron.

Furthermore, it is highly likely that such a Miliband-led bloc would represent the majority of votes cast at the election. At the very least they would represent the majority of seats won, under our rickety voting system. (Another attempt by Cameron to say that such a bloc is “illegitimate” could be tantamount to him accepting that our voting system is wrong and attempting to change it by default to proportional representation overnight – a remarkable feat for the leader of the Conservative party who has fought against voting reform tooth and nail for centuries!)

In that situation, the votes or abstentions of Scottish MPs are perfectly legitimate. To suggest otherwise is disgraceful and, what’s more, anti-unionist. (Again, a remarkable feat for the leader of the Conservative and Unionist party).

If the numbers emerge which allow Ed Miliband to pull together a bloc of “progressive” MPs who command a majority in the House of Commons, then Ed Miliband becomes Prime Minister and there is no other legitimate Prime Minister of this country.

The BS (Bovine Scatology) which has been spoken during the campaign about somehow illegitimate SNP MPs and “con-tricks” now needs to stop. Politicians, led by Cameron need to lead responsibly. We must not have a coup d’├ętat by media.

* Paul Walter is a Liberal Democrat activist and member of the Liberal Democrat Voice team. He blogs at Liberal Burblings.

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This entry was posted in Op-eds.


  • Peter Watson 7th May '15 - 11:59pm

    I wish that this article – and more like it – had appeared on LibDemVoice in the days before the election rather than in the minutes after it.
    Apart from the first paragraph, obviously!!

  • Sadie Smith 8th May '15 - 12:45pm

    Peter Watson, there have been quite a good number of comments. Not sure about a mainstream article.
    I have seldom been so angry with a politian as I was when Cameron breathed life back into Independence by his graceless response to securing the Union and then embarking on his English Votes nonsense. A period of appreciation at least would have suggested he understood.
    Statesmanship? Look at the rest of the Tory Party.

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