Tuesday, February 22, 2005

It Would Take Just One Determined Person to Bring Down Blair

An interesting anomoly in Electoral Law has been brought to the attention of Recess Monkey. The following guidance was for Returning Officers at the 2001 General Election.

Death of a Candidate
Before the Poll

6.83. If, at a contested election (that is, where there are two or more candidates standing nominated), proof is given to the satisfaction of the acting returning officer that one of the candidates has died, the acting returning officer must countermand notice of the poll.

During the poll
6.84. If the death is notified after polling has begun but before the result of the election is announced, the acting returning officer must direct that the poll be abandoned. Presiding officers must close their polling stations and deliver the ballot boxes and ballot papers to the returning officer.

The Subsequent Election
6.85. Where a poll is countermanded or abandoned, all proceedings relating to the election must be commenced afresh in all respects

The Electoral Commission has confirmed to Recess Monkey that these procedures still stand and that the subsequent election would be held within a prescribed period after the notification of the death.

If one candidate were to meet with an unfortunate accident during the campaign, no MP would be elected in Sedgefield, possibly until as late as Thursday June 23 (assuming polling day was originally 5 May). Under these circumstances, John Prescott would become Prime Minister and he would have to instigate a leadership contest within the Labour Party... Although the Queen would ultimately have the task of appointing the Prime Minister and could choose to appoint Gordon Brown if Prescott declined to accept the position. That would make Prescott Leader of the Party and Brown PM and the Party would just have to catch up with the status quo.

Recess Monkey isn't suggesting that someone tops one of the Sedgefield candidates, or that a terminally ill anti-war campaigner should stand against the PM. This is more of an intellectual exercise in constitutional contortion.

So who is vounteering to be a Suicide-Candidate? I mean literally, not just politically like Veritas, Respect and the Greens. Stand in Sedgefield, commit suicide during the poll and Blair will be out of power for 35 days. This is even more stupid than the 18,000-Camping-Voters-in-Sedgefield plan. The Queen could still appoint him PM. Neither Brown nor Prescott would bring the troops back from Iraq. Vote them Out, if you want them out! Its not complicated.


At 9:31 pm, Blogger Will said...

The Queen could still appoint Blair PM but it would be such a drastic change to the current constitutional position that I can't imagine her doing so.

And while Blair would be out of office for just a few weeks if re-elected, a by-election in Sedgefield with him as a candidate would be a seriously different matter from a regular parliamentary election there, or indeed any by-election in the past.

And would he forfeit the leadership by virtue of not being an MP? Would Blair have to be re-elected by Labour, and would they do it?

At 2:45 pm, Blogger john b said...

The Queen could always enoble Blair - it's not unprecedented to draw Prime Ministers from the House of Lords...

At 5:04 pm, Blogger Guido Fawkes Esq. said...

But will she knight Peter Stringfellow?


Support Sir Stringy!

At 6:23 pm, Blogger Underblog.co.uk said...

Might I suggest the pope?

I'll get my coat...

At 6:25 pm, Blogger GGO Blog Editor said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

At 1:03 pm, Blogger bigblue said...

Can't someone organise a "mass" registration of the entire population of an old-age home in Sedgefield?

I reckon the actual excitement of election day [strike]should[/strike] could do the trick. There must also be several hundred reasons why a bunch of elderlies would want to stand against Blair.


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