Governing without majorities

Stuart Wilks-Heeg
16 April 2010

The Democratic Audit has just published a paper on what we are now learning to call 'A Balanced Parliament'.

The key points it makes are:

  • Parliaments in which no single party had a majority of MPs, or out of which a coalition government was formed, were the norm in UK politics before 1945.
  • The somewhat pejorative term, ‘hung Parliament’, was not introduced into British political debate until the 1970s; in an increasingly multi-party system, the term ‘balanced Parliament’ would be preferable.
  • Recent electoral trends suggest that single-party majority governments will become less likely in the UK, even without reform of the electoral system.
  • The Cabinet Office model for determining the appointment of a Prime Minister in a ‘hung Parliament’ is based on a questionable interpretation of precedent and is flawed.
  • Recent discussion of the possibility and implications of a so called ‘hung Parliament’ has failed to consider these issues from a specifically democratic standpoint.
  • If the general election produces a ‘hung Parliament’, serious deficiencies in the UK’s constitutional arrangements may well produce a controversial appointment of the next Prime Minister and create a moment of constitutional crisis.

You can read it here

Stop the secrecy: Publish the NHS COVID data deals

To: Matt Hancock, Secretary of State for Health and Social Care

We’re calling on you to immediately release details of the secret NHS data deals struck with private companies, to deliver the NHS COVID-19 datastore.

We, the public, deserve to know exactly how our personal information has been traded in this ‘unprecedented’ deal with US tech giants like Google, and firms linked to Donald Trump (Palantir) and Vote Leave (Faculty AI).

The COVID-19 datastore will hold private, personal information about every single one of us who relies on the NHS. We don’t want our personal data falling into the wrong hands.

And we don’t want private companies – many with poor reputations for protecting privacy – using it for their own commercial purposes, or to undermine the NHS.

The datastore could be an important tool in tackling the pandemic. But for it to be a success, the public has to be able to trust it.

Today, we urgently call on you to publish all the data-sharing agreements, data-impact assessments, and details of how the private companies stand to profit from their involvement.

The NHS is a precious public institution. Any involvement from private companies should be open to public scrutiny and debate. We need more transparency during this pandemic – not less.

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