Friday, 24 July 2009

Labour's excuses

Labour MPs, in trying to explain why they don't want the Glasgow North East campaign to begin, have been entertaining, if disingenuous. One of the angles they have been trying is that the election could not have been held on August 13th if the writ had been moved on Tuesday, it would have had to have been on August 20th - a whole week later rather than the three months later that Labour says it is planning just now - but they're wrong, and I wonder whether Labour MPs ever actually read House of Commons Library Research Papers like the one on Election timetables. Page 27 gives the timetable for a by-election - 15 days to 19 days after the writ is issued, the writ gets issued the same day or the day after Parliament so moves, and the usual days are discounted:
Saturdays, Sundays, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, bank holidays and any day appointed for public thanksgiving or mourning are disregarded in the timetable. A bank holiday for a by-election is only disregarded if it is a bank holiday in that part of the United Kingdom in which the constituency is situated.

The 15th day after the writ was issued would have been the 11th or 12th of August and the 19th day would have been the 15th or 16th of August. Checking these things isn't hard, but Labour would appear to prefer just making it up as they go along.

For the sake of completeness of information, there is no rule that enforces the holding of a by-election during a Parliament:
There is a convention that the writ should be moved within about three months of the seat becoming vacant, but this is not a statutory or parliamentary requirement.

Who'd bet against Labour just holding out until the General Election next year?

Mind how you go!

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