Fraser Nelson

A tempting way out

A tempting way out
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"It's like the Masque of the Red Death" Stephen Pound said on Newsnight recently. "The band’s playing, the wine’s being served but half the dancers are dead and are just going through the motions.” And indeed, just yesterday, five more Labour MPs fell.

According to the polls, about half of them will lose their seat at the next election. With coming retirements, the number of MPs going at the next election will be 335 according to Sunday Times/Thrasher estimates, just over half of the total number of MPs. Even the Great Reform Act of 1832 only got rid of a third of the chamber. This is the undead parliament, most of whose members are waiting for the payout that accompanies the general election - whenever it comes.

There may be several Labour MPs who would be tempted to vote for an election and take the payout before another wave of public anger prompts a new Commons reform and robs them of it. Lord Falconer has been talking a lot about assisted suicide recently - and this, in effect, is what the Plaid Cymru motion calling for a general election offers Labour. Labour MPs might be thinking why not have an election now, and guarantee the golden parachute?

The moral of Edgar Allan Poe's short story is that you can't escape the Red Death, no matter how much you may try to pretend it isn't happening. We can see very many Labour MPs coming to this conclusion. As they sit on the terrace bar tonight, crying into their subsidised beer, they could be forgiven for mulling the Plaid Cymru motion and thinking: why not?

Written byFraser Nelson

Fraser Nelson is the editor of The Spectator. He is also a columnist with The Daily Telegraph, a member of the advisory board of the Centre for Social Justice and the Centre for Policy Studies.

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