The law currently works in the Tories' favour—but there might be something Corbyn can doby Tom Clark / July 3, 2017 / Leave a comment
Politicians shouldn’t need to be told that the timing of elections matters. The Fixed-Term Parliament Act, however, has been met with a curious lack of curiosity. In the run-up to the 2015 election Labour failed to grapple with it, even though it could have shaped the fate of the minority government they then expected to run. In the months before Theresa May called her snap poll this year, there was—again—a striking lack of interest, this time from the Tories. MPs who would chatter freely about whether an early election was a good idea seemed weirdly uninterested in whether or not May could actually call one.
There is now, it seems, even less interest in the 2011 law that fixes Parliamentary terms at five years—but this is more understandable. Because when May took her disastrous plunge this Spring, the statute didn’t hold her back. She just announced she “had decided” to go to the country, and soon enough she did: the FTPA suddenly looked to be worth less than the paper it was written on. Indeed, the Tory manifesto committed to repeal what was coming to seem like a forgotten relic of the coalition era.
And yet. The law is still on the statute book, and the fact that it didn’t have any bite in the last Parliament doesn’t mean it will not do so in this one. Indeed, it could very well be decisive in settling who governs Britain—and it could very likely work to the advantage of the incumbents.
How so? The government is, of course, a minority one, shored up—for the moment—by the Tory deal with the DUP, which affords a very modest majority on questions of “confidence and supply” and little els…