The last few days have been an extended lesson in what passes for a constitution in this country. Rolling news channels have been explaining the protocol to the masses, and the masses still don't care. I am relieved that the country now has functioning government.
In case you were under a rock, the Tories have struck a deal with the Lib Dems to govern. No sooner have they begun than they have gerrymandered parliament to protect their weakened mandate -- the 55% rule. 50% + 1 MP used to be required to force a vote of no confidence. Now it's 55%. Why? Because the Tories and the Lib-Dems can muster 46%, or thereabouts, thus ensuring that they are safe as long as the coalition holds.
And how long will that be?
William Hague, if my memory serves me, campaigned under the slogan "24 hours to save the pound" in 2001. He's now the Foreign Secretary of a coalition with the Lib Dems. Clegg speaks five languages, has a Spanish wife, a Russian grandparent, and has worked in Brussels. It's time the Tories faced up the reality -- we signed our sovereignty over ages ago, beginning as far back as the Treaty of Rome. It's far better to seek a strong position in Europe than deny the truth.
No more ID cards. The ID card database was a data protection catastrophe waiting to happen, not to mention a totalitarian wet dream.
Some sort of posturing in the direction of civil liberties / rolling back the surveillance society.
Dominic Grieve QC is the new Attorney-General. Well-regarded within the profession, a 'lawyers' lawyer' as the papers are saying.
ELECTORAL REFORM -- the big one! Hurrah, our votes will be worth the same, and the in-built advantage for Labour is gone. I don't have anything against Labour, but getting 4% more of the popular vote, but five TIMES more seats than the Lib Dems is just crap. Although I note that the Tories will whip through the vote on the referendum, but leave MPs free to campaign against electoral reform. Sneaky buggers.
No more pre-charge advice for summary offences, as per Tory manifesto. Hopefully, the sergeants in the local nick will continue to do what they've always done -- apply common sense, rather than the niceties of the latest diktat from Whitehall. If a complicated harassment comes in (summary), they'll be on the phone / lurking near my desk. If a big punch up comes in and they can see the CCTV, then hopefully they'll just get on and charge it, maybe a quick phone call to check that a black eye is summary only, or an opinion on mode of trial for a broken nose.
Erm, where to start? The usual crap in the manifestos of both sides.
The Tories bleat about building prison capacity, but there isn't the cash for that. They say that they are going to 'let criminals know that they can expect a prison sentence for carrying a knife'. Except that that's what we already have. Sentencing guidelines saying something worthy, and courts giving the sentence that they feel appropriate. If parties really wanted to get tough, it'd be a mandatory five year sentence for knife carrying, just like guns. The truth is, nobody's that bothered.
Lib Dems -- probably going to be disappointed on everything except electoral reform, and that too if Murdoch throws his not inconsiderable weight behind the Tories in a campaign to keep first past the post.
Hopefully, they'll begin with the bonfire of laws they've been promising. I hope we can trust the Lib Dems to keep the Human Rights Act 1998 away from the lighter fluid.