Comment at end
THE MORNING AFTER THE DAY AFTER THE NIGHT BEFORE
Amidst denied reports that a “ranting” Brown metaphorically threw things at Clegg over the phone last night, I notice that Mr Clegg has this morning listed as fourth “fundamental reform to our voting system”. I wonder if that REALLY indicates its order of priority for most Liberal Democrats. I doubt it, and he has to get his piece of the power priorities past them, in this the most constitutionally internally democratic of all three main parties.
I still see straps across the TV newscreens – “country votes for a hung parliament”. Nonsense of course. There is not one collective mind out there saying “let’s put our crosses next to all or some of the above“. Perhaps there should be, above another option – “none of the above” – but there isn’t. A hung parliament is the result of split allegiances and views, differing agendas, and lack of inspired leadership. A people’s movement is exactly what it is NOT. If it were anything other than this we would not find the Liberal Democrats holding the balance of power despite gaining fewer seats than in 2005.
We voted and we GOT a hung parliament because no one party GOT enough of us.
Julie has her opinions as to who is the winner. She is right in that leadership or the lack of played into this result. Inspired leadership outplays a faulty voting system every time, as history shows. We should also remember that most politically disinterested people vote AGAINST something rather than FOR something. Even Tony Blair’s Labour party benefitted from this anti-Tory sentiment.
This is not to argue that the voting system is fair. On a pure numbers/seats analysis the result clearly does not reflect all opinions fairly. However, changing that voting system will bring more ch..ch..ch..changes than may as yet be evident. Its existence HAS at least relegated minor parties, such as the BNP and even UKIP. And it has walloped Alex Salmond’s Scottish Nationalists in a way I could only have dreamt of previously.
Philip Stephens at the FT makes my point too:
“There wasn’t a box on the ballot paper inviting voters to reject Gordon Brown’s government and offer half a mandate to the Conservatives’ David Cameron. The British system does not work like that. It delivers to its prime ministers clear, decisive majorities. Think Margaret Thatcher or Tony Blair. This was the tradition torn up by this week’s extraordinary election.
In an eerie display of collective intuition, the individual choices of millions of voters contrived to align perfectly the parliamentary arithmetic with the angry ambivalence of the national mood. Mr Cameron had done enough to secure the keys of 10 Downing Street, the voters judged; but not enough to be granted a free hand.
The last time power changed hands in Britain was in 1997, when Tony Blair swept to power. The national mood then was one of unbridled euphoria. The atmosphere now is one of sullenness suffused with suspicion. Much as Mr Cameron could justly claim the Conservatives had won more additional seats (nearly 100) than at any election since the 1930s, the applause was distinctly muted.
The voters’ embrace of a different type of politics may well end in tears – and quite likely in another general election within a year or so. These are dangerous times to venture on to new political territory. The images of riots and petrol bombings in Athens and the turmoil in financial markets have offered a chilling reminder of what can happen when governments fail to grip serious economic challenges.
I think it was the economist John Kenneth Galbraith who once remarked that politics often resides in a choice between the unpalatable and the disastrous. That is a fair description of the alternatives facing Britain’s prime minister-in-waiting.”
SO WHY DO I DISAGREE WITH NICK?
Apart from the obvious – they were wrong on Iraq, and still think they were right – it’s the policies, sweetheart. Afghanistan withdrawal, their economic answers, getting rid of Trident and nuclear power, open doors to immigration. This is to put aside, for fear the hanging voter may notice, their policy on Europe (which for me personally is NOT such a turn-off, though it is for the population at large.)
Such differences our hung voters will start to notice as time passes. One thing is for sure – apart from the activists/members within the Lib Dems few of the hanging LD voters had electoral reform at the top of their “must do” list.
Clegg’s dilemma is that he has to thrash out areas where they and the Conservatives can work together and he has to sell it to his purist activists and MPs. Mr Cameron has a similar dilemma.
After hammering away at and even changing our electoral system we may well see ourselves with a permanent coalition, the tail wagging the dog, and holding the whole country to ransom.
Remember this as the country falls under the powerful kingmaking feet of “not the kingmaker” Nick Clegg:
- The seats the Liberal Democrats gained on Thursday actually decreased from 2005.
- His percentage of the vote went up by 1%, but the total seats decreased by 5.
- They lost 13 seats and gained 8. From 62 seats in 2005, it was 57 on Thursday.
5% From LAB to CONPolitical Party, number of seats, change from 2005 election:
Conservative – 306 +97
Labour – 258 -91
Liberal Democrat -57 -5
Scottish National Party 6 0
Plaid Cymru 3 +1
Others 19 -2
So what did the leaders say to the voters and one another on Friday? They were all very statesmanlike, to be fair.
First there was Nick Clegg’s Speech to the hung ones
Liberal Democrat Leader Nick Clegg has said the political party with the most seats has the right to form a government.
The Conservatives have won the largest share of the vote in the general election, but not enough to secure an overall majority.
Speaking to reporters, Mr Clegg said party leader must rule ”in the national interest”.
Then Gordon Brown did his constitutional duty
Gordon Brown has said he ”understands and respects” the position of Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg in stating he wants to speak to Conservative leader David Cameron about a possible coalition.
The Tories have won most votes in the general election, but not an overall majority.
Speaking to reporters for the first time about the future of a hung parliament, the prime minister said he was ”willing to see any of the party leaders”.
Then David Cameron said he agreed with Nick
David Cameron has reached out to the Liberal Democrats in an effort to form a government – after the UK general election resulted in a hung parliament.
The Tory leader, whose party won most seats but was short of a majority, said he wanted to make a “big open and comprehensive offer” to the Lib Dems.
- WSJ – A British Hangover concluding Labour’s era of optimism
- New York Times – Why you care about Britain’s hung parliament
- The Independent’s rollover report on election
- Newsweek Blogs – “But his [Blair’s] leadership and communication skills could come in handy right about now.”
PREVIOUS POSTS HERE
- Anthony Seldon on Brown. We all have a book to sell, don’t we?
- Result of the UK election points to … WHAT? A National Government, OBVIOUSLY!
- Election results. 1st blood to Labour. Exit Poll says Hung Parliament
- Death of glue-less, clueless Labour & Wikipedia entry 2050
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