No party wants to admit that it will go into coalition with any other party – because they want to maintain the fiction that they will win in May. On the other hand they are being a little coy about ruling out possible coalition partners – because pragmatically they know they may have to “do a deal”.
So what can we work out for ourselves? Read more…
It is difficult when the country won’t divide into two warring tribes. But, on the other hand, if you look at politics in the United States of America, perhaps not.
Without just two warring tribes and the associated bi-polar politics we (the UK) need to seriously consider multi-party politics and its implications. The fact that we have not really done so is part of the reason for the politics of the last five years generating so much heat and venom yet so little light and progress.
For the first and second parties in a multi-party system, the basic strategy is fairly easy and unchanged. You “campaign to win”.
If successful you either:
If you lose, you are spared the responsibility of governing and you are free to be chief critic – as long as you do not lose so badly that you cease to be the second party.
If you are not the first or second party, the situation is more difficult. Read more…
In yesterday’s Guardian (16 April 2014: Scottish referendum: the UK is on shifting sands – we can’t assume survival) Martin Kettle argued that post a “yes” vote, there could be very difficult times for both Scotland and the rest of us with tough and divisive negotiations dragging on well beyond the Scots Nats’ planned “independence day”.
So discussions are continuing and the press are baying either for a government or for Gordon Brown’s blood. They say “the markets” will take it very badly if we have not got a government by the time they open on Monday.
I would rather we took a few days longer to get a government that may last a few months longer – which is what happens elsewhere. Meanwhile, the press should remember that the Queen’s ministers must continue the government until a new one able to command a majority in the Commons emerges.
As for the markets, they need to seriously chill out a little. Read more…
Time to push the numbers around:
Total seats in Parliament, 650 less non participating: 6 (5 Sinn Fein & the Speaker) Participating Seats 644 Votes required for an effective majority = 644/2 : 322+1 Conservatives Seats announced 305 (BBC 306 figure includes Speaker) plus expected to win in 1 Thirsk by-election Subtotal 306 plus Ulster Cons & Unionists 0 - that was a great idea! plus DUP 8 - here's to the pork barrel Total poss. Conservative Camp 314 - 19 Short Possible Opposition Labour 258 Liberal 57 SDLP 3 Alliance party of NI 1 Sub total 319 (representing 52% of the vote) - 4 short of a majority Scottish Nationalists 6 Plaid Cyrmu 3 Total Nationalist 9 Green 1 Maximum Total non-Tory camp 329
(Check 329+314=643 – this compares to 644 effective votes: the difference is an Independent (anti-Tory link) Unionist who I have not allocated to either Camp)
It comes down to how you measure legitimacy.
Does “winning” with 36% of the vote give you a “better legitimacy” than second and third place with a combined 52% of the vote?
Or does a coalition representing 52% of the popular vote have more legitimacy than any other combination?
How much weight to you give to someone who has come first? If you argue that 36% in a predominantly three way fight is OK, is 27% legitimate in a predominantly four way fight, and 23% in a five way fight? The Scottish Nationalist minority administration in Scotland (a predominantly four-way fight) had ~32% popular support. Of course in Scotland the 68% non-nationalist element could (if they got their act together) vote out the Scottish Nationalist administration – because they have an approximately proportional voting system – so they hold power with the tacit consent of the representatives of the people.
36% of the popular vote giving you 47% of the seats just does not feel legitimate. It could land us in the grease.