The Futility Monster

He'll pointlessly derive more enjoyment out of your resources than you

Election Withdrawal Symptoms

Posted by The Futility Monster on June 25, 2009 @ 18:17

We won't be seeing much of this...

We won't be seeing much of this...

As alluded to in my previous post, elections are the raison d’etre of all politicos worldwide. Without them, we are naught.

So it is indeed fortunate that we have two by-elections around the corner. One in Glasgow North East, Michael Martin’s old constituency, and Norwich North, where former MP Ian Gibson did the honourable thing by resigning (though curiously, people with worse expense claims than him are still in situ).

First off: the question of timing. Labour hasn’t yet moved the writs, so it’s very clear they intend to kick these by-elections as far into the long grass as they can. It also means they are running scared. After so many months of terrible headlines, they clearly do not want to risk any more. The consequence of that is we’re definitely going to have an election free summer. Bah!

As usual, there is another flaw in the British constitution. There is no requirement to move a writ for a vacant constituency. Ever. Convention suggests it be done within three months of the vacancy arising. As far as I’m concerned, convention is useless. Something else that needs ironing out in a written constitution.

Of course, Michael Martin’s seat has only just become available, so I suppose there’s no real surprise there. But Ian Gibson resigned a couple of weeks ago and nary a peep has been heard. And as both by-elections are the result of resignations, the writ for a new election can only be moved while Parliament is sitting (there is no provision for a recess writ in the Recess Elections Act 1975). So if Labour doesn’t do something about it by the middle of July, these seats are going to be vacant for a very long time. Even if they did move the writs on the very last day of the recess, 21 July, that would make for a by-election on or about the 6th August. A more unlikely election date you can’t imagine.

In other words, I don’t see the writ being moved before the resumption of the Parliamentary session on 12 October. Which would mean by-elections towards the end of October or early November.

As for the circumstances surrounding the two by-elections, well – they couldn’t be more different. One is a seat the Conservatives have an excellent chance of winning, Norwich North, and one they really ought to be winning in a General Election if they were to form a government with a healthy majority.

Meanwhile, Glasgow North East is anyone’s guess. There hasn’t been a competitive parliamentary election there since 1997. That one will be fascinating to watch.

And to think, so many by-elections, and not a prayer for the Lib Dems anywhere. We really are getting out of the habit of winning them! Difficult times ahead…

UPDATE 30/06/09: it seems Labour took the bait and are up for the fight in Norwich North after all. But nothing yet about Glasgow North East. Could they be held on split dates after all? Seems very likely now. Interesting tactics – could potentially lead to two very bad days. Mind you, I don’t think it matters to Brown any more…

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One Response to “Election Withdrawal Symptoms”

  1. […] Election Withdrawal Symptoms […]

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