Friday, October 05, 2007

The Prime Minister's power to call elections

At times I wonder if I am a conservative or a liberal. At least in one regard I am fundamentally conservative. That is, I am deeply wary of consitutional change. I am of that classic school of English thought that holds that no matter how odd some antiquated rule, there must be a reason for it.

In the United States, the president serves a fixed term of four years. Here in the UK, the prime minister has the power to call an election at any time on the Queen's permission, up until five years after the government has been formed. At the moment we are all desperate to know whether or not Mr Brown will call for a snap election in November.

There are some who feel that the prime minister has too much power in being able to call an election at any time. It certainly does give the prime minister an immense politcal advantage over the opposition.

However, I believe that changing the rules so that the power to call elections would be in the hands of the House of Commons to be a dangerous change to the nature of the British state. It would be an immense constitutional change that could lead to the country becoming a republic (abomination of abominations).

You see Britain has no written constitution. It is the person of the monarch who holds together the British state. When a party is voted into power, by covnention, its leader is personally appointed by our blessed Queen Elizabeth II as prime minister. It is a personal appointment. If the timing of elections and the dissolving of parliament were to be decided by the House of Commons, then the personal link between the Queen and the Prime Minister, the head of governemnt would be servered. This would be a move towards a written consitution. There would no longer be a clear role for the monarch at the centre of gravity in the state.

I think we have had quite enough constitutional change in the last ten years. It is time to slow down and let history move at a more British and gentlemanly pace.

2 comments:

Palm boy said...

I don't think I'll ever fully comprehend British Politics... Monarchy and all. Still, it seems to work well enough.

Dyspraxic Fundamentalist said...

It works because:

1. The unwritten rules have accumulated over time. It is a good old system.

2. The English sense of fair play. Everybody works to the rules.

The problem is that the present Labour government is addicted to constitutional change. They are obbsessed with modernising the system. The danger of that is that we are going to get change at a pace that could damage the nature of the British system of government.

Every Blessing in Christ

Matt