Following the election, the Conservatives proposed various amendments to the Hunting Act which would make the ban on foxhunting impossible to administer. Last week they were forced to postpone that decision after it became clear they couldn’t win a vote in the House of Commons.
Foxhunting is a divisive issue, not for the UK population—80% of whom support a ban—but in the Conservative Party where a great many oppose it. Given the lack of evidence that foxhunting is effective pest control and the fact that being torn apart by dogs doesn’t seem like a nice way for anything to die, I support the ban but the future of the ban isn’t the biggest problem this episode has thrown up.
While no one, not even Cameron, expected a Tory majority at the election the reality is that we now have the weakest UK Government since John Major. Why? Because while the Labour Government never won a majority less than 66 and the two Coalition parties had a majority between then of more than 80, Cameron has a majority of 12. Major had 21.
The UK Constitution—which does exist, just not in a single document—is designed to promote stable democratic government above all else. It’s one of the reasons we use a non-proportional electoral system and it’s why before Cameron’s self-interested constitutional vandalism it only required a simple majority on a no confidence motion to trigger a General Election, because if a Government couldn’t control a majority and pass legislation they had effectively lost control of the country.
Cameron’s small majority has serious implications. By 1997, Major had lost the support of so many Tory MPs he didn’t even have a working majority, the reason: Europe. Since the Prime Minister only has to upset six members of his party to lose votes he is in an even weaker place with the decision on the Europe and the new runway leaving more than enough opportunities to lose that support. I’m no fan of Conservative majority government but having such a weak UK Government does absolutely no one any favours.