Six months today the election campaign begins – and MPs have just 100 days left in the Commons
We’re precisely six months away from the Queen dissolving parliament, at which point the 2015 election campaign will be officially under way.
MPs are due to sit in the House of Commons for just 100 days between now and then.
The dissolution on 30 March means we’re in for the longest election campaign in modern political history. Thanks to the timing of Easter and other bank holidays, the campaign will last a whopping 37 days. Compare this with the 23 days that elapsed between dissolution and polling day at every election between 1992 and 2010.
We’re now very much into the endgame of this parliament. In those 100 days of scheduled Commons sittings, MPs will have to debate and pass new laws on devolution both in Scotland and around the UK, along with the 11 brand new bills announced in the Queen’s Speech in June, plus a further six bills carried over from the 2013-14 session.
They’ll also have to deal also with the consequences of military action against Islamic State in Iraq and any emergency legislation on the increased terror threat; plus set-piece events like George Osborne’s autumn statement in December and the Budget in March.
Given the scale and scope of legislation demanding attention between now and the election, it’s hard to see this parliament concluding in an orderly fashion.
It also feels utterly impractical, not to say insulting, for our MPs to try and deal with everything in just 100 days. They’re not even due back at Westminster until 13 October, which will be the first time they get to debate the result of the Scottish referendum – an event that took place three and half weeks earlier.
David Cameron, meanwhile, has only 20 sessions of prime minister’s questions left polling day: a prospect that may cheer rather than dismay both him and his opponents.
However MPs end up managing the ever-growing stockpile of issues awaiting their attention before polling day, it’s likely it won’t show off the House of Commons at its best. The months ahead will be grim for fans of parliamentary democracy – and possibly even worse for those of us hoping to see cool, considered debate from our finest political minds.
But all is not lost. At the end of those 100 days, every single MP will lose their job. And it will be up to us to decide whether they deserve to be reappointed. That’s the beauty, and the blessing, of a general election.