Monday, April 27, 2015

Political Illiteracy

I suppose that I must finally be warming up to this lacklustre general election campaign, judging by the amount I seem to be writing about it.  That said, what fascinates me most is the disturbing level of ignorance regarding UK constitutional matters displayed by some of the participants.  Worst offender in the past few days has been Nick 'Calamity' Clegg, who reiterated his completely wrong-headed notion of five years ago, in which he maintained that any government formed from a coalition which didn't include the single largest party in the Commons would lack 'legitimacy'.  This, you might recall, was his justification for forming a coalition with the Tories in 2010, which spawned this disgraceful excuse for a government we've subsequently been forced to endure.  Obviously, to anyone other than a political illiterate like Clegg, this concept of 'legitimacy' is entirely false.  What gives any government legitimacy is simply the ability to command the confidence of Parliament - in other words to be able to survive a vote of 'no confidence' in the House of Commons.

It really is that simple.  It doesn't matter whether that government represents a coalition made up of any number of smaller parties, but excluding the largest, or whether it is a minority government formed by the second largest party with some kind of arrangement with other smaller parties to support on key legislation and confidence votes.  Indeed, it could be a minority government with no formal arrangements of any kind with other parties but which, instead, survives from day-to-day and vote-to vote by making ad hoc agreements with other parties as required.  Indeed, a government formed by a coalition of every party except the largest would arguably have more legitimacy than one formed of a coalition of the largest party and a smaller party, as it surely it would represent the interests of more of the electorate.  But Clegg isn't the only one with strange ideas about legitimacy - we've had a lot of Tories, most recently Teresa May - trying to tell us that a hypothetical coalition government formed by a Labour-SNP alliance would somehow lack 'legitimacy'.  Why?  Just because the SNP is regionally-based party dedicated to ending the Union doesn't invalidate the right of its MPs to sit in parliament or participate in governing the UK.  After all, despite the fact that it is opposed to the Union, the SNP's MPs still represent voters in Scotland which, the last time I looked, was still part of the UK.  But, like I said, none of this seems to be graseped by the political illiterates in our midst.   



Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home