2010 promises to be a very interesting year in British politics. Thanks to the Septennial Act (yes only the British could base their five year limit on Parliaments on a statute named for Seven years - the Act passed in 1715 which limited Parliament to 7 year terms was amended (rather than repealed and replaced) by the Parliament Act 1911 - which says in s7 "Five years shall be substituted for seven years as the time fixed for the maximum duration of Parliament under the Septennial Act 1715") - there will be a General Election, with a new Parliament elected. The high number of announcements of retirements at the election will mean that the new Parliament will have a very different cast of characters from those we have known to date.
So what are the key questions for followers of the British Parliament?
The General Election Campaign - what will be the defining issues? Will this be fought on policy issues? or personalities? Will the campaigns include real discussions of positive ideas and policies - or will we see throwing of dirt and personal insults?
The Election Result - what will the makeup of the new House of Commons be? Will we finally get to see a hung Parliament? (In 1974 although no party got an overall majority, a new minority Labour Government was formed - and a second election held seven months later - a small majority was gained but soon the Government was dependant upon support from minority parties)? Will Labour fight back to win a fourth term in Government? or will the Tories return to power after 13 years? How much will each of the parties change withinn 2010? (being in Government or Opposition after the election could have a major impact on the parties - would Cameron survive failing to win the election? (would we be asking if the Tories had become unelectable?) or will warfare erupt within a defeated Labour Party?
New MPs - what will the class of 2010 be like - and how will it change the atmosphere and ethos of Westminster?
Parliamentary Reform - will the aftermath of the catastrophic events of 2009 lead to reform - or will they die a death? What will happen to Lords reform? Will the method of choosing members of both the Commons and Lords change?
Much to think about - I hope you'll continue to follow Washminster as the answers emerge.