LibLink: Mark Pack – Why David Cameron won’t be calling a snap general election

Over on the LSE’s British Politics blog, The Voice‘s Mark Pack has been explaining why commentators speculating about a snap general election have got it wrong:

Fixing the date of the next general election (and future ones) outside the control of the Prime Minister was a central part of the Conservative/Liberal Democrat coalition agreement because it was a way of guaranteeing the five-year deal. Otherwise the risk for the smaller party is that at any point the larger one can suddenly pull the rug out from under an agreement and call an election. No doubt it helped sweeten the pill for Conservatives that Gordon Brown had recently come under fire for dallying with different election dates, making fixed-term elections look rather more attractive to some Conservatives. Restricting the powers of politicians is always more appealing to politicians when it is the other side they imagine being restricted.

The legislation has a pair of caveats to the fixed-term, but if you read the full piece you will see why Mark says neither of them permit David Cameron to call a snap general election.

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3 Comments

  • Malcolm Todd 3rd Jan '12 - 11:40am

    I think you mean 1974, Simon.
    Apart from that, I think you’re probably right — would the Labour Party dare to vote *against* an election? They could, I suppose, abstain — on the grounds that they thought it more important to have an immediate change of government, and that there was no need to have an election to throw out a government that had never won a majority in the first place; but they’d need to be damn sure they were going to get enough support from us and at least tolerance by all the minors so as to form a government that could last long enough for people to forget that Labour hadn’t wanted an election… but it would be mighty risky.
    In the end, it’s politics that will determine whether we have an early election — the law’s flexibility makes it possible to manipulate; but the politics have been somewhat changed by the Fixed Parliament Act.

  • Simon, I think you refer to feb 1974, not 1979.

    The last point you make is also underlined, by the so-called “cancelled” General Election of Gordon Brown’s of 2007, where it has been said that the right wing press would and did cry “chicken” at him. The general point you make, however, ie, that Tories and Labour could easily both feel they could do well in a GE simultaneously. Worryingly, of course, they could both be right, and it could be at the LDs’ expense. Our holding nearly 60 seats has the effect of making it more difficult to calculate!

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