Political Promise

The Right to Recall… a dangerous game to play

In Vicky Wong on November 29, 2010 at 7:42 am

As the National Union of Students launches its Right to Recall campaign, to encourage students to vote against MPs who break their pledges on tuition fees, Vicky Wong questions whether recalling MPs would be in the national interest.

The NUS have announced their Right to Recall campaign, which will attempt to remove the MPs who abandon their NUS pledge. It’s incredibly exciting to see students revolt (it has been on my bucket list for a while), but I cannot help but feel somewhat uncertain about the campaign and what it will mean not just for students, but for the entire country.

All of the 57 Liberal Democrat MPs in the Commons signed the NUS pledge and a handful of MPs have vowed to stick to their pledge, Sir Menzies Campbell and Charles Kennedy to name a few. But it is guaranteed that Cable’s Twickenham seat will not be safe, and Clegg’s Sheffield Hallam seat even less so. Either way, at least 50 Liberal Democrat MPs are in danger.

But assuming this Right to Recall campaign is successful, and in the unlikely scenario of nearly all 57 Liberal Democrat MPs being wiped off the face of the political map, what will that mean for the country?

Manifestos aside, mathematics always wins. Out of a house of 650 MPs, the Liberal Democrats 57 MPs seems an almost insignificant number. However, we need to remember that the Conservatives did not win an overall majority (306 seats, just 20 short of the 50%+1 seats needed for a majority government).

Assuming a worst case scenario where a significant number of Liberal Democrat MPs do lose their seats, this could threaten not just the strength of the government, but the stability of the nation as a whole.

It is unlikely that the Liberal Democrat MPs who have reneged on their pledge and have been recalled will regain their seat, and given the reality of the nature of cuts being proposed, a Conservative win in any former Lib Dem seat could hardly be a reality.

This only really leaves the Labour Party candidate, and even that is hardly a viable alternative. Given the election of their new leader and reports of rifts and divisions within the party, in addition to the absence of a coherent programme of policies, the Labour Party can hardly be deemed fit for government yet.

But assuming that those seats do end up going to Labour, it will hardly work out. Under a Lib-Lab coalition, there would not have been enough MPs to form a government as it didn’t pass the 50%+1 seats needed, unless a “rainbow coalition” or “coalition of the losers” were formed.

So what we are looking at is a coalition government which is hated by many versus an opposition party that is not ready to govern yet and wouldn’t have enough seats. Which would you rather have in power at the moment? We all forget that during those five days of negotiations after the general election, the markets were watching, and the economic consequences of having days of prolonged talks would have been detrimental for the British economy. So it was a relief that we reached a conclusion after five days and not five weeks.

Given the current financial circumstances, can our country take another set of elections which could threaten our economic security?

As much as I despise the Lib Dem u-turn, I ask NUS President Aaron Porter, is it worth it?

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