First Minister Alex Salmond has made it clear that he is open to the idea of the 2015 election being pushed back by a year to avoid a clash with Westminster. One could argue that he has the small matter of a 2011 election to get out of the way before contemplating four years hence but it is a fine opportunity, well
taken, to look First Ministerial as this election period rolls on.

There is of course a second solution to the problem of a UK election being held on the same day as a Scottish election – holding the UK one earlier.

Five year terms were in neither the Conservative nor the Liberal Democrat manifesto and the UK is a country that is used to four year terms. Why should changes to our democracy only ever emanate from tawdry convenience rather than the strength of an argument, backed by a public mandate? AV is not the only ‘miserable little compromise’ that the coalition is suddenly in favour of and the only discernible mandate is the shuffling silence from a disengaged public.

The Liberal Democrats wanted fixed terms to rid Prime Minister’s of the power to call a General Election whenever he/she liked but David Cameron preferred five years in the top job rather than four so that we had more time to grudgingly accept the cuts before the next election so here we are, five year fixed terms and everyone has to adjust accordingly.

The simple problem is that five years is too long for the public not to
have a say, particularly as we are movin towards a system where Governments are judged on their past term rather than deliver on promises made during the campaign. 2005-10 term saw changes in leader for all of the main parties, a financial crisis and a rapid demotion of the defining issue of 2005 – the Iraq War.

There was a tangible need for an election in Brown’s dithering fifth and final year and it’s not easy to imagine the same being the case in 2014, 2019 and beyond but the problem of course is that the people don’t care either way. You don’t win votes by talking about how long Parliaments should be and you clearly won’t face protests for selfishly tinkering with the constitutional status quo, so why not act in naked self-interest if you can get away with it?

It would be crude to prolong Malc’s comparison and suggest that the UK’s diminishing democracy coupled with Egypt & co’s capturing of it includes our move from four year terms to five year terms but there is a public carelessness at play here that is, if not dangerous, at least irresponsible.

Clegg and Cameron got their way, Holyrood and Wales are having to adjust accordingly and noone else seems to really care. I guess for those of us who still hanker for four year terms and can’t bring themselves to vote No to AV we’ll just have to hope that the coalition comes unstuck in another way – a Lib Dem wipeout in May perhaps.