Gordon the Squatter
Paul Waugh has performed a valuable public service in comparing the pre-election version of Sir Gus O’Donnell’s guide to a hung parliament and the new edition. He identifies the addition of this paragraph as the main change:
The incumbent prime minister is not expected to resign until it is clear that there is someone else who should be asked to form a government because they are better placed to command the confidence of the House of Commons and that information has been communicated to the Sovereign.
But I am not sure that Waugh’s interpretation of its significance is right. He says:
It looks to me as though this is designed to prevent the power vacuum that existed when Gordon Brown suddenly gave up and quit.
On the contrary, I think it is designed to justify, retrospectively, Brown’s staying in office for five days after the election. I remember talk at the time from both Tories and Tom Harris about his “squatting” in No 10 and demands for him to go.
I thought he was right to stay, and think that this paragraph is an attempt to explain why.
Photograph: AFP/Getty ImagesTagged in: constitution, hung parliament
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