Don’t be naive

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Amidst the hullaballoo about tactical voting and which party will or will not work with other parties after the general election, a point should be made about the way the House of Commons actually works.

It is both a democratic forum and a club. It cannot function without detailed co-operation between the Speaker’s office, the Whips’ offices and the Cabinet office.

This involves all parties who take their seats in the legislature and, indeed, ones that don’t.

The procedures help to determine the order in which members speak, what business is conducted, and the time afforded to each item of business.

No member who hoped to get a private member’s bill on to the statute book could hope to do so without the support of members of other parties.

Much of the pious rhetoric we have heard over the past few weeks, the insistence about no deals, no coalitions, no back-room fraternity, has been so much hot air.

Deals, discussion, dialogue will go on otherwise the parliamentary system will soon be dysfunctional.

The pretence that it is otherwise amounts to a gross deception of the public in which nearly all parties are implicit.

Some of the points made by Allan Massie (Perspective, 6 May) are valid.

Indeed, there will come a point when the party leaders simply have to accept the verdict of the voters.

If a hung parliament makes it difficult to form a government, this may be a lesson for those who have constantly lauded the benefits of the first-past-the-post electoral system.

A calm assessment of what the people have actually decided will be essential come Friday afternoon.

We may be surprised at how quickly our new representatives come to terms with political and parliamentary reality.

Bob Taylor

Shiel Court

Glenrothes