Grenfell – we need an ‘Air Accident’ type investigation, now

The utterly appalling sight of our fellow citizens being burnt alive, trapped in a tall building, naturally fills all of us with deep sorrow, and for many anger.

How could this happen? Could it happen again?

There are two sort of questions that need examining. The first, and by far the most urgent, is how did this happen in the technical, proximate cause, sense? How could a tower block that’s stood for 4-5 decades suddenly turn into such towering disaster?

Immediate ‘Air Accident Investigation Branch’ type investigation? Continue reading

The Paradox of the Fixed Term Parliament Act: Protecting Government and Rebellion

The Fixed Term Parliament Act (FTPA) was the love child of the Conservative – Liberal Democrat Coalition government.

It was designed primarily to ensure that a minority-coalition Government could – would – survive for a whole Parliament.

That was the primary aim and indeed that is what the FTPA achieves. It makes it very difficult to defeat an incumbent Government, even a minority one and especially a coalition (what a surprise). Continue reading

The asymmetry of potential Tory rebellions over Brexit (spoiler: hard Brexiteers look away now)

First a quick reminder of the balance of power in the House of Commons:

The Tories have 316 voting MPs, the ‘rest’ have 313 (323 with DUP).

If the DUP

Abstain = 3 vote Tory majority.
Vote with the Tories = 13 vote majority
Vote Against = 7 vote minority

(For full explanation see my previous blog here) Continue reading

The Real Balance of Power in the House of Commons

[Updated 10 June 2017]

Well, I didn’t see that coming.

I will leave (for the moment) others to begin the unpacking of how the result happened. I want to just do a quick (and accurate) check on where this leaves the House of Commons and therefore power.

Firstly the Conservatives have won 317* seats at the time of writing (with all 650 seats declared).

(*not 318 as the BBC are reporting. For some odd reason they are including the Speaker – who is no longer a member of any Party – as a Tory as I explain here.)

Continue reading

The BBC think that the Speaker, John Bercow, is still a Tory (I bet he’s chuffed with that)

All morning the BBC have been repeating that the Tories have won 318  seats in the House of Commons (expected to rise to 319).

But that is wrong, because they include Mr Speaker as a Tory. His seat is counted as a Tory seat, his votes as Tory votes. But he isn’t.

Continue reading