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Trevor Phillips has one of his bright ideas

From a press release at EHRC, ahead of a speech that Phillips is making:

"The Commission believes that one way of speeding up turnover would be to impose a term limit for MPs. Limiting MPs to serving a maximum of four parliamentary terms - or roughly 20 years – would allow more people from a wider range of backgrounds to enter the House. These limits could also be considered for the House of Lords".

And then the caveat that renders the foregoing meaningless:

"However the proposals would need careful consideration as, for example, it would be important to ensure time limits didn’t prevent Parliament benefiting from the experience of long-serving members".

Because I try to get my facts straight and because it is more interesting than working for a living, I have compared British general election dates with the first premierships of Prime Ministers from Gladstone to date.

Gladstone would have left the house ahead of the 1852 election - 16 years before his first ministry

Disraeli - first elected 1837. Would have suffered the Logan's Run treatment in 1857, 11 years ahead of his first ministry.

The Greatest Ever Englishman would have been out in 1918, 22 years before he had the opportunity to be the saviour of our nation.

For those with heroes on other sides, Lloyd-George would have received the order of the boot 12 years ahead of his premiership and Clement Attlee would have missed out by 14 years.

We would also have missed out on Campbell-Bannerman, Asquith, Balfour, Baldwin Ramsey MacDonald and Chamberlain, so from 1868 to 1951, none of our prime ministers would have passed Phillips' test of worth, either for having none taken heed of his equivalent of Cromwell's dismissal of the Rump Parliament as I do not suppose he would be very happy about PMs based in the Lords either.

Progressing beyond Churchill II, who by then had overstayed on Phillips' measure of legitimacy by nine elections, Eden left it too late, so did Douglas Home. Wilson missed on the brass ring by just one election, Callaghan would have been 'encouraged' to spend more time with his family in 1964, and Thatcher would have been writing her memoirs - not that anyone would have been interested in them - after the first '74 election.

At this point our Prime Ministers start acquiring some 'legitimacy' - Major was elected in 1979 and so should have stood down in '97. Blair would have been working on his property portfolio and so forth a little sooner - he would have gone in 2002. Not that that would have done Brown any good as he would have gone at the same time.

In the light of that set of findings, I do not think that there is much need to frame a more elaborate argument demonstrating that Philips' idea is not one of his better ones.


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Anonymous Geoff said... 9:38 am

This must be one of the most splendid fisking of a completely daft point of view that I've seen on any blog for ages.  



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