Would you be comfortable with a Prime Minister being able to decide just before an election who gets to vote in the election? Or what about them personally picking the constituency boundaries to be used?
I suspect not … and a major part of the reason is that elections should be about giving the public a choice, rather than been a tool to be twisted to keep those in power still there.
That’s also why I believe in fixed-term Parliaments.* Why should the Prime Minister get to pick how this part of the electoral system works just to fit their own fancy and self-interest?
That’s why I think Hadleigh Roberts is wrong to breezily dismiss this question when saying:
On the part of the electorate, the advantage is little more than psychological.
It’s actually far more than that: it’s about both the principle (elections are there to serve the public, not the Prime Minister) and the practical (why should the ruling party have this extra advantage?).
(* There is actually an increasingly important subsidiary argument in favour of fixed-term Parliaments: not having fixed dates makes for a very messy system of political finance and expenditure control. That’s because – rightly – there are tougher and tighter controls as polling day nears, but without knowing when polling day will be, it means you don’t know for sure when different rules will turn out to have kicked in. There are, for example, limits on national expenditure in the year running up to general election polling day, which means lots of extra record keeping that turns out to be wasted if an election isn’t held at the earliest date you thought you had to be prepared for.)