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Sunday, 16 May 2010

A Week Is A Long Time In Politics

That sentiment was attributed to Harold Wilson, who left the stage in 1976, but is even more relevant nowadays, given the speed at which information moves compared to thirty-odd years ago.

And if a week is a long time, then a year is a veritable eternity by comparison. But why should this be such a big deal? Ah well. Our new Government is presently considering a move to fixed term Parliaments, and the term that is being pitched is five years. But that wasn’t the term that was most widely talked about before the election.

Maybe it wasn’t in Young Dave’s script, but on most occasions the idea of fixed terms came up, the timescale was four years. That may have been a nod to the USA, where the Presidential contests have to be of that frequency, but there are other countries across the EU that have adopted the four year idea: Germany, the Netherlands, Spain and Portugal all adhere to it.

Yes, in the UK we currently have a five year term, but this is the maximum period before there must be an election. So why does Cameron want to make the fixed term equivalent to the current maximum, rather than cap it at four years? That question is bound to be asked as the measure is debated, and my reading is that there may have to be a falling back to four years in order to reach consensus.

Or, of course, the proposed period could be amended before the debate, just to show that someone is thinking things through, rather than making up policy on the hoof. That’s hoof as in donkey – the two-headed variety.

[Young Dave was happy to bang on about process when quizzed this morning on the Andy Marr Show, but was distinctly sketchy on policy. This is something that Big Al has been stressing time and again, and Cameron gives every impression of proving him right]

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