Teaching Comparative Government and Politics

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Beware of textbook generalizations

Well, at least recognize that generalizations are not without exception. Textbooks (generally) describe parliamentary government as easily enacting the plans of the legislative majority.

Two issues this week in Commons demonstrate that is not the way things work all the time.

Fox-hunting: SNP forces Cameron to delay planned Commons vote
Ministers shelved Wednesday's vote on relaxing hunting laws in England and Wales after the SNP said it would vote against the changes…

Downing Street said it was "disappointing" that the vote had to be postponed, and said new proposals on the Hunting Act would be introduced "in due course"…

The government now plans to tighten up restrictions on Scottish MPs voting on matters in England and Wales before holding a vote on hunting regulations.

Nicola Sturgeon, Scotland's First Minister, said the decision to delay the hunting vote showed "David Cameron can't carry his own parliamentary group", and that he only had a "slender and fragile" majority.

She said he had also been forced to pull his English votes for English laws plans, showing that he was "not master of all he surveys in the House of Commons".

She said if he "had any sense", he would come back with proposals based on "fairness and reasonableness" that "work in both directions"…

With two strategic retreats in the space of a week, the intersection of Hunting and English Votes for English Laws (EVEL) is generating some really interesting politics.

Last week, the government paused its attempt to bring in EVEL, replacing a vote on Wednesday with a consultative debate…

The government plans to change Commons rules to allow English, or English and Welsh, MPs a "decisive say" on legislation only applying there.

However, the current proposals would not prevent SNP MPs from voting against the changes.

This is because the statutory instrument ministers want to use to change the law would require the support of the whole of the House of Commons…

Meanwhile, a poll for the BBC's Victoria Derbyshire show has suggested almost three in four British adults are against making fox hunting legal.

The poll, conducted by ComRes, asked 1,005 people if the practice "should or should not be made legal again?".

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