When our democracy becomes a Spectator Sport

I recognise though, given the situation, I cannot deliver the mandate on which I was elected by the Conservative Party. I have therefore spoken to His Majesty The King to notify him that I am resigning as Leader of the Conservative Party. This morning I met the Chair of the 1922 Committee Sir Graham Brady. We have agreed there will be a leadership election to be completed in the next week. – Liz Truss

On 20th of October, Liz Truss came to a lectern outside 10 Downing Street and announced her resignation as Prime Minister of the UK.

There have been calls for a General Election as the UK economy lurches from one crisis to another. Liz Truss was put into office by Tory party members after a long 7 weeks of campaigning up and down the land speaking to small groups of this select band of voters. She won that select election with a vote of 57.4%. So 81,326 people decided who would be at the head of the UK Government. By the way Liz Truss is still Prime Minister until the new one takes over. Here’s what happens next:

Nominations close at 2PM on Monday 24 October 2022. Each candidate will require 100 nominations from Conservative MPs.

If three candidates reach the threshold there will be a vote of Conservative MPs. The top two will then be subject to an indicative vote of Conservative MPs before going forward to an online vote of Party members. This will be completed by 28 October 2022.

If only one candidate secures the required nominations there will be no confirmatory vote of Party members and the candidate will be confirmed leader on Monday 24 October 2022.

Leadership elections: Conservative Party

How is this all possible?

Well the UK does not have a written constitution. It’s supposed to work on the idea of ‘convention’ , what happened before, but as the previous PM, Boris Johnson did, if you don’t like how it works, just make it up to suit your needs.

What is the role of the Head of State: King Charles III?

The government of the day can decide when to call a general election. Not the King.

“The Dissolution and Calling of Parliament Act 2022 (“the Act”) repeals the Fixed-term Parliaments Act 2011 (“the 2011 Act”). In doing so, the Act makes express provision to make the prerogative powers to dissolve Parliament and to call a new Parliament exercisable again, as if the 2011 Act had never been enacted. As a result, Parliament can be dissolved by the Sovereign, on the request of the Prime Minister, as it was prior to the enactment of the 2011 Act.” General elections, UK Parliament

What this means is that it is the Government of the day which decides when a General Election can be called and the formality of it is that King Charles III then does the signing off of that. He has no power above the formal act of agreeing to it.

A General Election would only happen if the House of Commons has a vote of No Confidence in the Government , meaning government Bills cannot pass, important things like The Budget. The Tories have a very comfortable majority in the House of Commons of 80 MPs, after their landslide victory in 2019. That’s more MPs than represent the whole of Scotland – which has only 59 MPs. Would these Tory MPs now throw out the new Government and most likely also lose their seats? This would only happen if the MPs put the future of the people above self interest and retaining power. A General Election could also be called by the incoming Prime Minister just put into the job by the Tory Party.

There is no written constitution. No power lying with the Head of State, King Charles III. There is power resting in the votes of Members of Parliament in the UK House of Commons: 650 of them. The 4 main parties: Tories: 357; Labour: 197; SNP: 44; LibDem: 14.

Reaction around the political parties in Scotland

The SNP has the most MPs in Scotland at 44. Does it want a General Election?

Robert Leslie is the Convener of Orkney SNP. He said:

“While the Tories at Westminster cling to power with plans for the election of a new party leader within a week, who will become the third Prime Minister in as many months, we need to remember that ordinary folk are paying a very high price for the chaos that Liz Truss inflicted on the UK economy in her 45 damaging days in Downing Street.

“The reality is that there are folk sitting in cold houses in Orkney right now, scared to put their heating on, after a new chancellor slashed energy price protection from two years to six months. Only on Thursday I saw new statistics showing that over 15% of households in the north are heating their houses to a lower level than this time last year. Sadly, lives will be lost this winter due to Tory economic vandalism.

“A General Election is the least we need to end a period of anti-democratic Tory misrule, but in truth a growing majority of Scottish voters are realising that we can do so much better than this, and independence can’t come soon enough.”

The Tories have 6 MPs in Scotland. Do they want a General Election?

Douglas Ross is an MP and MSP. He is the leader of the Tories in Scotland and said:

“We must now move forward quickly and the new Leader and Prime Minister will have to restore stability for the good of the country.”

Alister Jack is the Secretary of State for Scotland but so far he’s not said anything.

The LibDems have 4 MPs in Scotland. Do they want a General Election?

The leader of the LibDems in Scotland is Alex Cole-Hamilton. He has said that ‘Now we need a General Election.

Labour have 1 MP in Scotland. Does he want a General Election?

He is Ian Murray MP. He also supports a General Election.

He commented :”The very fact that Boris Johnson is even being considered by Tory MPs as PM again shows how much they are laughing at the public and have no regard for the damage they’ve done. A revolving door of chaos that’s put a Tory Party premium on everyone’s mortgages and living costs.”

It is clear that, apart from the Tories, all the main political parties in Scotland are keen to have a General Election but with only 59 MPs out of a House of Commons total of 650 what Scottish MPs want doesn’t figure in it all.

And meanwhile all we can do as citizens is watch what unfolds.

Democracy is not a spectator sport, it’s a participatory event. If we don’t participate in it, it ceases to be a democracy. – Michael Moore

Fiona Grahame

1 reply »

  1. The trouble is…it’s not even so much a genuine spectator sport as an episode of ‘It’s A Knock-out’.

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