Outside the marginals

a commentary on the politics that followed the UK 2010 & 2015 elections

Archive for the category “Ulster”

Two Fingers May

So it’s in the post – two fingers to the EU. And the Tory backbenchers will wet themselves with excitement and the Daily Mail will be ecstatic.

But Theresa May is giving  two fingers to more than the EU. Read more…

Party Permutations

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…

Electoral Debates – One out; all out?

We know that the parties are motivated by self-interest when it comes to who they think should take part in the General Election Debates.

But what do the voters think? Read more…

Being the 3rd or 4th Party

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:

  • with a following wind from the electoral system create a majority government (happy days), or,
  • you form a minority government or a coalition – either of which is difficult – but is probably better than losing.

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…

Post “yes”: a 2014-2018 hypothesis

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”.

I could not agree more with this article: Read more…

The Aftermath II (of ?)

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…

Electoral Maths and Legitimacy

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)

So clearly:

  • Conservative 306, trumps Labour 258, but …
  • Labour/Liberal (and associates)  319, trumps Conservative 306, even
  • Labour/Liberal (and associates)  319, trumps Conservative + DUP 314

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.

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