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UK: a minority Conservative government? « Previous | |Next »
May 4, 2010

A few days out from the general election and Britain is locked in a tight three-way race. All three parties are within five points of each other. Cameron's Conservatives look as if they won't get an overall majority even though they are "measuring up the curtains for no 10'; the Liberal Democrats may come second, though that looks unlikely; whilst Labour continues to trail, clinging on to the hope that something might turn up.

None are leveling about what is needed to address Britain's huge fiscal deficit, its bloated state and soaring public debt. This election is not about the parties' plans to tackle Britain’s deficit:

BrownDcuts.jpg Dave Brown

What has changed is that there are now three parties in electoral contention, and an overall majority of the sort first-past-the-post used to yield may become more difficult for any party to achieve. A hung parliament may knock some sense into the corrupt political system.

Labour deserves its come uppance says George Monbiot because Labor under Blair and Brown has:

abandon[ed] everything it once stood for, and hand[ed]us, trussed and oven-ready, to big business and the Daily Mail. We'll be trapped like this for ever, in New Labour's Bermuda triangulation, unless we vote for what we believe in rather than just against what we don't.

The New Labour era is limping to a close. The unfair electoral arithmetic of first-past-the-post still massively disfavours the Liberal Democrats, and will limit its seat-gains to a few dozen even in the best circumstances. At this stage it looks to be a Tory minority government dependent on Lib Dem cooperation.

More realistically Cameron's Conservatives would seek pacts with Unionists in Northern Ireland, Plaid Cymru and the Scottish Nationalist Party in order to avoid having to accommodate Lib Dem demands for electoral reform. The momentum does seem to lie with the Conservatives. They may even win a majority of seats if the momentum continues in the last days.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 10:28 AM | | Comments (5)


I understand why people take such an interest in the UK, even though on objective criteria the election outcome is about as relevant to us as one in Italy and less important than Japan, which hardly anybody bothers to follow. I do it too.

However I've never understood why UK politics gets such attention in the USA. Could it be that after all these years, there's still a sense that it's the mother country? When a British parliamentary committee recommended the end of the 'special relationship' recently, some of the conservative pundits in the USA reacted as if they'd been slapped by their wives.

Anyway the ridiculous disproportion between votes and seats in the UK, like the first George W Bush election outcome and the relative representation of the Nats v Greens here, is further evidence of the grievous flaws in the polity of Western 'democracies'.

Ken, you say:

on objective criteria the election outcome is about as relevant to us as one in Italy and less important than Japan....

True. But Britain is still important for understanding the Australian Labor Party as a lot of its ideas were recycled from Blair's New Labour in the UK.

Secondly, as you point out, it is important for highlighting the systemic flaws in the British idea of democracy which Australian has inherited. This works to favour the two major party's at the expense of the emergence of a third--eg., the Greens in Australia.

Third we have the emergence of the surveillance state in a liberal democracy that targets photographers taking photos in public places.

it still looks like a very close election, with a Conservative government the most likely outcome but quite probably having to contend with a hung parliament. The momentum in the polls seems to be with the Conservatives.

When will the British start to realize that their electoral system can allow a party to win a quarter of the votes and a 10th of the seats. Do they see it for what it is: a relic of a two-party era that has long gone?

There are stories of polling stations closed before voters had had a chance to cast their ballots, with people turned away or locked out, and of supplies of ballot papers running out.