Written evidence submitted by Graham Clowes
I am submitting this comment in my personal
capacity as a voter. I am only answering one question as follows:
9. What are the implications, if any, of
the fact that these proposals lack a popular mandate?
Not one voter actually voted for this Government.
The coalition's programme has not been voted upon by the electorate
and consequently the current Government cannot be said to have
any mandate to pursue the programme they are following. This may
not have been so bad had the coalition programme simply drawn
from each of the participants manifestos, and to a certain extent
this is what happened. However, the actual programme which has
been pursued subsequently has consisted of initiatives which were
neither in the party manifestos or indeed the coalition's published
The result is that, at a time when the public
has little confidence or respect for the political process (due
in part to the expenses scandal), the current Government are bringing
the system further into disrepute by pursuing a programme for
which they have no mandate.
A government in Asia or Africa, who received
no votes and pursued an agenda which had no mandate via the ballot
box would be branded as a dictatorship or a banana republic. We
would suggest they were undemocratic, but this is the situation
we find ourselves in currently. The implication is that the system
is being abused and is not delivering the choice of the British
people. The outcome is that confidence in the British electoral
system diminishes, further eroding the trust the British people
have in the establishment.
I do however understand why a coalition has
emerged, and appreciate that it is not viable or practical to
call a re-run of an election simply because one party has failed
to achieve a majority of seats. However, where a coalition emerges
I believe that a standard five year term is too long. I understand
that systems exist whereby a Government can be dissolved before
the end of a five year termbut this is reserved for extreme
situations and not within the control of the electorate. The five
year term for a programme which does not have a mandate from,
and potentially the confidence of, the electorate serves to undermine
the integrity of the system.
The nature of any coalition government programme
inevitably must be a compromise. It has to be created after an
election so will not carry a mandate from the electorate. Therefore,
there should be a shorter termmaybe two years. This will
enable the coalition to set out its programme and begin workit
will also enable the electorate to pass its judgement on that
programme. If the programme is appropriate the coalition would
be re-elected, and if so a five year term would be appropriate.
This would however require that the coalition proposes a joint
programme and stands for election that basis. It may be that the
partners in a coalition arrangement may wish to stand separately
at the two year pointbut if that was the case them one
could argue that the coalition was not sustainable in the first
place. This early election requirement would also ensure that
the policies pursued by any coalition would not be too extreme.
13 September 2010