Fix that term: the case for fixed term Parliaments

A polling stationIt’s 80 minutes into an Arsenal-Tottenham football derby. Tottenham lead 1-0. Arsenal are piling on the pressure. The Tottenham manager shouts at the ref, “OK, that’s it – can we have the final score now please?” The ref agrees, all the players troop off the pitch 10 minutes early and Tottenham get the three points.

Sounds absurd doesn’t it (and I don’t just mean the idea of Tottenham beating Arsenal!)?

But that’s what passes for normal in the world of Palace of Westminster politics when it comes to general election dates. The Prime Minister – and the Prime Minister alone – gets to choose the date. Now – in theory Parliaments last for five years and the monarch has to agree to any earlier election, but in practice – the PM always gets his or her way – and they shouldn’t.

Which is why, even though the immediate fuss after Gordon Brown’s general election that wasn’t has died down, I’ve returned to the topic in my latest magazine article – which you can now read on my website.

It mentions www.fixedterm.org.uk – which is a cross-party campaign on this very topic, including the likes of bloggers Iain Dale (Conservative), Stephen Tall (Lib Dem) and Sunny Hundal (of Liberal Conspiracy), MPs Ed Vaizey (Conservative – and my frequent sparing partner on The Westminster Hour) and former Lib Dem leader Ming Campbell, and journalists including Benedict Brogan of the Daily Mail. If you agree with me on the issue – do go and sign up to support it. And if you don’t – read my article, and perhaps you’ll be persuaded!