Friday, May 29, 2009

Playing with Fire

Earlier this week a commentator on Tom Harris' blog asked:

...what *would* happen if all the Tory MP’s (and maybe all the Lib-Dems and SNP/PC MP’s too) decided one bright and early Monday morning to ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer (in order) to be appointed to the Stewardship of the Chiltern Hundreds & Northstead Manor? Would that (by dint of several hundred by-elections) force a General Election? I know it wouldn’t force one by law, but would the PM have no realistic choice but to call a General Election in face of fully half the House resigning? An interesting hypothetical, although I’m sure no-one would risk it. After all, if it backfired, you’d just look stupid and maybe even lose some seats in the face of a public backlash. But I’m just curious as to what that would do….

My response was to explain that this would be the kind of constitutionally destabilising action that would lead to a collapse of democratic government.

After all, every other future opposition could do the same thing.

One of the advantages of studying say Roman History is that you can see how, again and again, over-political politicians pushed a constitutional modus vivendi and brought about massive instability.

In fact, if the opposition did such a thing, they would still leave a government in power, which could then, for example, pass a parliament act, that excluded all MPs until a general election. Or, as during WWII suspend general elections altogether.

And then we could all have a nice civil war.

Jacobinism leads always and everywhere to tyranny.

Today, Simon Heffer, a much more important voice than that of the blog commentator, called in a more limited way for the same kind of messing with the constitution.

Dave made a speech to the Open University the other day to outline his view of how politics could be given back to the people. It was pretty fatuous, and suggested that he, like Gordon Brown, is floundering in the face of this unfolding disaster. I am sure there are some things that we might change in the light of this overwhelming evidence that members are, for the most part, no longer honourable. I am interested in the idea of recall, to force an MP to stand for re-election during a parliament if a quorum of his constituents find him unsatisfactory. However, the only thing that will really make a difference is if selection committees in all parties stop picking second-rate people on the make to stand for Parliament, and instead choose those who express a vocation and have the means and integrity to pursue it.

Dave is also hamstrung by the autonomy of Conservative associations: he needs to discuss with certain chairmen in certain seats the wisdom of continuing with their present MP. But there is already something he can do to show he is back in control, and I would urge him to do it today. It is for the Chief Whip to tell those MPs who have agreed to stand down that they should do so now, and not at the next election.

This would not only stop them leeching off the country at once; it would put pressure on Gordon Brown to do the same. Those who have resigned have talked about doing it for the good of the party. A series of by-elections, which the Tories would probably win, would be very good for the party. Those who refuse to go now can have their reputations further trashed; those who don't can begin their rehabilitation. It might even precipitate a general election. Go for it, Dave.

So now, it's clear what the Daily Telegraph is up to - complete political destabilisation.

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