The challenge for media outlets in the light of the current political situation is huge. No doubt the 24hr news and social media agencies are delighted because they can change their content every 10 minutes but the conventional broadcasters have to explain that their pieces will be out of date by the end of the current programme. For newspapers including columns like the Argus which is publishing this blog today it is a huge challenge so if what you are about to read has been overtaken, then thanks for reading an out of date suggestion. I should begin by conceding gaps from last weeks page in the Argus. I wrote about the importance of Sussex MPs debating the prorogation of Parliament as set out by Johnson and approved by the Queen, and how a significant number of Sussex residents had signed the petition calling for it to be ended. One factor I missed is that Peter Bottomley had already declared that the prorogation is too long and so his challenge can be added to the various Sussex, Surrey and Kent MPs such as Nicholas Soames who are standing up against their party leader on such matters. Thankfully Parliament should still be open today and MPs have now agreed to discuss the content of Mark Johnston’s petition during the day. Another matter relates to the tweet by an MEP that I referred to last week which stated “A prorogation normally happens every Autumn” I discussed this with a student last week who pointed out that Autumn begins on 23rd September so given that Johnson wants to start the prorogue in the 24hrs or so, Daniel Hannan is mistaken. Another mistake came in the Opinion piece by Jeremy Quin on the same day in the Argus in which he claimed that Parliament only began sitting routinely each September from 2010. In fact this change began in 2002 and it was a reform introduced by Labour, not by his Tories.
So onto this week, the threat by Johnson to die in a ditch rather than delay Brexit and his demand to have an election, given that he stated about 2 days earlier that he didn’t want an election raised a question in my mind. I was reflecting on whether I should have to vote for Caroline Lucas yet again, given that I voted for her in 2015 and 2017 and would do so at the next election. It questions if the Fixed Term Parliament Act introduced by Cameron in 2011 is still credible, particularly as some of his party members sought to remove it in 2014. Of course the Opposition Parties have been calling for an election regularly ever since the bill was introduced as Peter Bone explained when the 2017 Election was being proposed “Any Opposition Members who did not want a general election would be very strange creatures indeed”. However for voters there is a lot to be pleased about it if they don’t wish to vote every time it suits a Government. For some people the opposition to very frequent General Elections is a cost based one. For others it is that they would like their vote to count for a bit longer than suits the people who they appointed to do a job. However given that we have voted twice in the last five years and our new Prime Minister wants us to vote again this year, it would seem as though our views on such a matter should be taken into account. My personal view is that elections should be organised in an efficient manner, from a cost point of view but also from the point of view of the organisations that have to run them. Local Councils are those bodies and the chaos caused in 2017 when the General Election took place several weeks after Local Elections was very challenging for voters but a major headache for Council departments.
There are two further issues that matter even more. The first is that we need to help our communities understand why a vote is taking place and wherever possible to increase our involvement and certainly a benefit of the 2020 General Election would have been that it would have increased the turnout for the 2020 Police and Crime Commissioner election. My final point is the most important one. Johnson and Rees-Mogg and their colleagues are demanding a second General Election to take place since June 2016 in the next few days yet they have refused to allow for a second EU referendum in that period because they claim that our views won’t have changed since then. This is clearly nonsense and if we are to have a General Election now, it is vital that this must have a second referendum alongside it!