Play honestly with the constitution

Britain’s constitution is a rickety old thing, existing as it does on scraps of parchment and the collective wisdom of tradition. Most of the time, at least since Charles II brought his curly wig back to London, it works. Every now and again its eccentricities are laid bare. Now is such a time.

One of the things that allows the United Kingdom to govern in such an ad hoc manner is that its leaders see beyond the letter of the law and rule according to consensus and common sense. The Queen is a prime example: the Constitution allows her more direct power than she exercises, but, realising that for the Crown to play politics would be unseemly and unpopular, she remains sensibly aloof.

Yes, it is perfectly constitutional for the two smaller parties in Westminster to form a majority against the largest party; yes, it is perfectly constitutional for a governing party to change its leader (again) without invoking a General Election; yes, it is perfectly constitutional to cobble-together support from anti-unionist nationalist parties; and yes, it is perfectly constitutional to ram through voting reform without a referendum.

But none of it is wise. The majority of the British people will see this for the scheming desperation that it is and the country and its constitution will be damaged for it.

A Con-Lib coalition has none of these disadvantages. I very much hope that Nick Clegg will not play the “old politics” he so passionately decried.


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