One thing that has got a bit lost in all the talk of the AV referendum and the size of constituencies is the fact that an important part of the constitutional measures includes fixing parliamentary terms for 5 years.
I am in favour of fixed term parliaments. The nonsense that the country has to go through as we get towards the end of the fourth year of a parliament where we all have to play guessing games about when the next election will be and the Prime Minister of the day tries to juggle things in such a way as to announce the date to maximum advantage of themselves and their party needs to stop. The timing a general election should not be for a politician to use to their own ends.
However I am uncomfortable with the idea that parliaments will be fixed for 5 years. Under the existing rules, that is the longest possible time that a parliament can run for. I see no reason why the fixed term should be set at this current maximum.
The devolved assemblies/parliaments all have 4 year terms including the London Assembly. What is the case for making the UK-wide elections any longer than this?
Successful Prime Ministers generally hold them every 4 years anyway. Tony Blair always did as did Margaret Thatcher and they did pretty well electorally. It is usually only when a government is failing that it runs the full course. Do we really want to be fixing the term to match the period of time that John Major's 1997 and Gordon Brown's 2010 administrations ran to?
I expect I am not the only one who feels like this and I anticipate various amendments including one to reduce the term to 4 years will be forthcoming as the legislation is debated in the coming months. I hope the government is receptive to the idea that a shorter term will be better for democracy in this country.
A well run government would have nothing to fear from a 4 year fixed term parliament.