Outside the marginals

A commentary on the politics that followed the UK 2010, 2015 & 2017 elections (and THAT referendum)

Archive for the tag “hung parliament”

Conference Mischief making (1 of many)

So The Independent on Sunday has done a poll that shows that activists from a left-of-centre political party would prefer a parliamentary coalition with the Labour Party.

According to the poll for The Independent on Sunday by the respected grassroots website Liberal Democrat Voice, four out of 10 party activists want the Lib Dem leader to form a coalition with Labour in 2015, while a further 15 per cent would like to see a Labour-Lib Dem “confidence and supply” agreement, whereby the third party is free to vote against the Government but agrees not to bring down the Government or vote against its Budget.

In a major blow to some senior Lib Dems close to Mr Clegg who are planning a second term of coalition with the Conservatives, only  15 per cent want to see this deal, while 6 per cent would back a Conservative-Lib Dem “confidence and supply”.
The Independent website 15 September 2013 Exclusive poll reveals activists would want to form a coalition with Labour in 2015

How very illuminating and depressingly typical of the sort of stirring that is done around the party conferences. It just provokes more stupidity. Read more…

In a Pact Programme …

I am still amazed by the way that the media still can’t get their mind around the implications of having a coalition government.  Some members of the public are not doing to well either.

They seem determined to find winners and losers in the Queen’s Speech.  We seem to have two-party leaders who for better or worse (and I have my doubts) have thrown in their lot with each other. Have Cameron or Clegg betrayed their followers?  Or did the Labour leadership (by its negotiating stance) betray its followers?

No one “won” the election, (despite some Tories claiming their, almost feudal, “right” to rule,) so no one party can “have their way”.  So the alternative is either complete stalemate or a coalition and that means compromise.

Read more…

Parliament or Government?

There seems to be a lot of heat about the 55% dissolution lock, and this seems to arise from confusing a vote “of no confidence” (in the Government) and a vote “to dissolve” (Parliament). Read more…

The stitch up or the new politics?

“Prime Ministers should be voted into 10 Downing Street by the people of Britain, not because their party has stitched up some deal”
David Cameron, in Essex – 24th April 2010

The idea that we elect a Prime Minister is a fiction (aided by X factor style debates).  We elect MPs (however imperfectly) and the Prime Minister is in effect indirectly elected by them because he or she has to command a majority in the House of Commons.  When one party has a majority we get the pre-stitched up choice of that party; when no party has the majority the stitch up has to be done after the event.

So this boils down to: Do we want:

  1. a parliamentary system, where we elected representatives and they in effect elect the government – if so how do we want to see the method of electing that parliament improved, or
  2. a genuine presidential system, where our ballot paper says Brown, Cameron, Clegg (Foggy, Compo and Cleggy) and we elect a “presiding minister” directly (who then appoints the executive) with a separate election for the legislature?

The latter could lead to a minority “presiding minister” with absolute power, or under AV, “presiding ministers” who will always be from the left or from the right. See-Saw politics with a conspiracy of acceptance between left and right because each knows they will get their inevitable turn.  That pushes me back towards favouring a parliamentary system, hopefully elected under a system that means my vote counts and I can choose to support (or not support) an individual rather than a party list*.  Then we need to be more adult in our election campaigning and get away from the cult of presentation and personality (over principle and policy) caused by X-factor style debates.

In a democracy, we must tolerate a range of views; the corollary of that is that we have to accept that governments which do not get a clear majority have to “compromise” (possibly a more appropriate term than “stitch up”).

The Aftermath III (of ?)

The press today seem to be almost uniformly condemning Gordon Brown and calling for a Conservative Government. I also understand some Sky correspondents are having a melt-down.  They seem to be of the view that 36% of the vote gives a party a near-divine right to rule and anything else is illegitimate. A conservative on the World at One (BBC Radio 4) has just described the Conservatives as “the majority party”; I think someone does not understand even the First Past the Post voting system.  They also seem to be of the view that, because Clegg said during the campaign that it would be sensible in the event of a hung parliament to talk to the largest party, he is committed to rolling over and supporting the Conservatives.

I don’t think Gordon Brown had any choice, but it has given rise to some interesting quirks. I also think that Clegg is in a no-win situation.  Both have to play out their given roles. 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.

The Aftermath

Well I have had at least six hours sleep, breakfast and a bit of exercise – which probably makes me more competent to pontificate than most of those on the television.

Random headlines: Read more…

Drawing to a Conclusion

but what conclusions?

The confusion between electing a Parliament and a Government is rampant

We have seen a campaign by three prospective government leaders.  But outside the marginals we have not seen campaigns for membership of parliament.  This would not appear to be a Parliamentary Election. Read more…

Hung up about Hung Parliaments

On BBC News Website Election 2010: War of words mounts over hung parliament 26 April 2010 20:01

Earlier Tory leader David Cameron accused the Lib Dems of wanting to “hold the whole country to ransom”, saying their proposed overhaul of the voting system would result in a “permanent hung Parliament”.

Is this any worse than ruling the country and doing things like introducing the poll tax or taking us to war when you only have minority support, but due to the election lottery you get an overwhelming “majority”?

Of course to avoid a “permanently hung parliament”, Cameron could try to win a genuine majority – in the country.  At the moment he only has to grab minority support – he can ignore the rest of us – hardly worthy of a prospective national leader.

Gordon Brown (same reference as above) is also hung up on the issue:

“Don’t be arrogant enough to assume that you can start talking about after an election, let the people make their own views up. And let people decide.”

I just wish the people could decide, most of us can’t; outside the marginals we can only watch as the electoral lottery machine spins and spews out red and blue balls.

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