Post-Election

Since my crazy inflamed passion for politics is driving me crazy, I reckon if I just open a release valve, blog it out, I’ll be able to settle down and get some work done.

So here’s me, speculating on what might happen.

I think, barring a spectacular performance by Cameron over and above Clegg (and that’s not to discount Brown, who for all his faults has substantial economic nous) in the final leader’s debate on economics hosted by the BBC (who I confidently predict will have the least shit studio for the occasion) the poll numbers should hold steady going into the final approach to the election.

Unfortunately, because these waters are so uncharted, it’s hard to predict exactly how that’s going to translate into seats and votes on the night, but it seems like the most likely outcome will be a narrow margin between either the Tories or Labour as to who will be the overall largest party (probably the Tories) with a substantially increased Lib Dem contingent. I very much doubt any party will be able to form an overall majority.

That gives Brown first move, as he’s the incumbent. What he does with it will be interesting, and depends on the Lib Dem posture; there’s a reasonable chance that the Lib Dems would consider coalition, or at least a promise of support, at a price.

The Lib Dems are certain to want electoral reform. That is absolutely non-negotiable, and given the result is likely to be fairly absurd in terms of proportions of votes to seats, they’ll have a substantial popular mandate for moving to a more proportional, fairer, system.

A second condition is likely to be that Brown promptly fall onto his own sword. He’s a liability to his own party, let alone to the fortunes of a coalition. A  third condition might well be the installation of Vince Cable as the Chancellor, a move likely to be publically popular. I doubt the Lib Dems will win enough support to justify Clegg taking over as PM, but it’s an interesting possibility, especially in the power vacuum left by the Brown murder-suicide.

Note that those things get increasingly more unlikely as they go on; Clegg for PM is practically a fan-boy’s pipe-dream. But a Lib-Lab pact founded on electoral reform and the toppling of Brown is an attractive possibility.

What if conditions make it such that we end up with a Tory minority government? This is possible in the case of the Tories having a reasonable lead in seats over Labour, or Brown rebuffing the Lib Dems in attempt to claw onto power.

The Tories are going to be a lot warier of siding with the Lib Dems; electoral reform might well be a price too high for them to pay. It would mean the end of any hope of a Tory majority government ever again. Fundamentally this is a progressive, centre-left country; between them Labour and the Lib Dems have nearly 60% of the vote. If our votes were ever allowed to count equally, the Tories would never see power again.

In the absence of coalition, this would mean a weak and unstable government; Cameron would have to pull off some pretty damn good politicking to save his hide and win a proper majority in a hypothetical second election. Considering this the man who’s managed to turn what should have been a slam-dunk victory into a hung parliament, and almost brought his party to the point of being made irrelevant by proportional representation, it doesn’t look good for him.

That’s, of course, assuming his party doesn’t stab him in the back. The New Conservatives under Cameron (why that appellation isn’t more widely used I’m not sure) is much more of a surface veneer than the transformation of Labour under Blair, who truely fought for the heart and soul of the Labour party.

Cameron’s makeover of the Tories is mere lubrication designed to help him squeeze down the corridors of power. Which is possibly the most unpleasant metaphor I’ve ever written. There are lots of Tory backbenchers who are still the nasty Tories of old, untouched by Cameron’s campaign to change the party’s image; look at some of the homophobic statements that have leaked out in recent weeks. These people tolerate Dave because they believe that he can put them back into power, where they believe they belong. If he fails to deliver, they may well see Dave as expendable.

The more right-wing Tory who would replace him would, naturally be a lot less electable; this is the same party that tried tacking to the right three times before they realised it was a losing strategy.

Anyways, I guess the only really firm conclusion to be made is that this election is both incredibly interesting and unbelievably important; we could be on the threshold of real political change in this country.

11 thoughts on “Post-Election

  1. “and that’s not to discount Brown, who for all his faults has substantial economic nous”

    IMO that's one of the biggest myths of this election. Certainly the record of the last 13 years doesn't back it up!

    “Fundamentally this is a progressive, centre-left country; between them Labour and the Lib Dems have nearly 60% of the vote. If our votes were ever allowed to count equally, the Tories would never see power again.”

    For a “progressive, centre-left” country, the Tories have done rather well historically. And it'd be interesting if the Lib Dems formed a coalition with Labour, given that Labour look set to become the third party. It'd somewhat run in the face of the whole “change” thing, tothen form a coalition with the incumbents!

    Additionally, over the last 2 parliaments Liberal Democrat MPs have voted rather more closely to the Conservatives than with Labour…

    I almost don't care what the coalition is though. As long as the Liberal Democrats are there and as long as they insist on proper electoral reform, I think that'd be a major win.

  2. Well, the economy has tanked pretty much everywhere! One of the reasons that Britain was over-exposed was because we've fostered the creation of a ridiculously huge financial services industry. Pretty much the prevailing dogma to everyone was that this was a good thing.

    Sure, Brown fucked up and made some not so great decisions, but saying he did a really bad job is unfair. He also did a pretty reasonable job of mitigating the impact of the recession through a swift implementation of some ol' fashioned Keynesianism, although not enough public job creation, really.

    I share his concern that cutting spending too fast could slow the economy down; you wait for the leg to heal properly before you take off the cast.

    I want him gone, but you can't dismiss him as being incompetent.

    Historically yes, the Tories have been strong but the fragmentation of the left and centre-left in general has made it disproportionately weak thanks to FPTP. Looking at the values of this country today, inclusivism, gay rights, a commitment to state-run health, we're pretty damn progressive. But then I'm somewhat viewing with the rose-spectacles.

    I have heard the argument that it would be a betrayal of the idea of change for the Liberal Democrats to go into coalition; I agree that it's not ideal (Clegg for PM!), but you have to be pragmatic. It's all well and good refusing to back either party, but then you'll be the party of change, unable to actually do anything.

    If the Lib Dems can get electoral reform as the price of coalition, it'll be goddamn worth it. That's a pretty damn big change if you ask me, seeing as how it'll alter the political landscape of this country forever. Never mind that they might well get Labour to roll back the database state, ID cards, pre-charge detention, etc. etc.

  3. I agree that work sucks and is boring. This blog was sufficiently interesting to distract from that and I am grateful for that fact and don't have much more to add on the matter.

  4. “through a swift implementation of some ol' fashioned Keynesianism”

    Yeah, but no. Spending was already high before the downturn. We already had a fairly hefty deficit, because Brown as Chancellor had a bit of a spending problem. Spending in the downturn is good, but because of the initial level of the deficit we've not coped as well as we could have. Or rather, we're in a much worse position now than we would've been if Brown was a better Chancellor and didn't run up such a deficit in the years before the credit crunch.

    Cutting spending too fast would be a problem, yes. But I think we're edging ever so closer to the economy picking up again. And certainly there's bugger all difference between Tory and Labour spending plans (0.5% of GDP!). Have to admit that I'm not sure how the Liberal Democrat plans shape up next to the other two.

    Oh, and I wasn't saying the Lib Dems shouldn't form a coalition with anyone. Just that I'd rather it wasn't Labour – it'd seem hypocritical to me for them to form a coalition with what it seems is the least popular of the 3 main parties. But then I think that the sooner we boot Labour out of government the better – that particular band of incompetents have had long enough in government IMHO.

  5. I did say he fucked up, heh.

    The Lib Dems plans are closer to Labour than the Tories on spending. It's all costed up in the manifesto.

    To be honest, I think it's just wait-and-see time. It's volatile enough that we don't know what the state of play will be after the election.

    I think Labour needs a bit of a do-over, at least, which they'll probably get in the bloody internal strife once this election passes. I imagine most of the currently senior leaders will get decimated. Milliband might make it, but…

    Personally, I just think a Lib-Lab coalition is more likely to get us electoral reform than Lib-Con. The ends justify the means, I think. I'm all about the ends.

    Anyways, I think I'm ideologically Lib Dem, not Labour. Labour have some of the right ideas, but a bunch of really wrong ones, too.

  6. Lol indeed you did say he fucked up. And as fuckups go, it was a fairly large one…

    I agree, it looks like Labour will get somewhat shaken up. Which is a good thing if you ask me. Although I think you're right about Miliband – I can see him being the next leader, which would be fairly shitty IMO.

    Like I said in my first comment, I'm not massively fussed who is in the coalition as long as we get reform. But I'd just rather it weren't Labour 😀

    And Clegg's been making encouraging noises about that too:

    “I think a party which has come third and so millions of people have decided to abandon them, has lost the election spectacularly, cannot then lay claim to providing the Prime Minister of this country”.

    Which to me (assuming the current polls are accurate), points to a Lab-Lib coalition with Clegg as PM, or a Lib-Tory coalition. Either of those is fine by me.

  7. I agree with this – Brown ran up a debt by spending, wasting money and selling off the gold reserves in a high for not enough money. This is the guy who said “no more boom and bust”. Oh, and he raided the pension funds too.

    Cutting spending does not necessarily cut spending. To qualify that, if you try to make a process more efficient, you don't have to spend as much money because you're paying less for the same, and believe me as a former civil servant it is definitely possible and very long overdue. That is what I think David Cameron is promising to do – I wonder if he will actually be able to do it though. There will be a lot of resistance to it and people like brown can use the word “cuts” to make it look nasty.

    I also disagree we are a primarily centre-left country. Our media is primarily centre-left, yes, and students have a very social left (liberal) leaning. I'm not sure about the entire electorate though. It depends on many factors – you have to remember quite a lot of people don't know if they're centre-anything.

    I would really like the whole party thing to be totally shaken up – not “three main parties” but a total re-write where politicians start standing for policies and not to line their own pockets. I suppose I'm primarily a Tory, but I'm not convinced Cameron has what it takes. I'm not sure about Clegg's policies.

    At the end of the day though, I just hope we get some change. Being in power for 13 years is far too long for whatever political party – we saw the same problem in the Major gov't before 1997. They get too comfortable and lose sight of the fact they work for the people.

    So I'll say I'm all for either a conservative outright win, which looks unlikely, or a conservative-liberal coalition, which I think is possible. I'm all for letting labour nose-dive for a while. They need to; they'll get their house in order and all will be fixed for them again.

  8. I think electoral reform to the extent of having wholly proportional representation could be disastrous. As Cameron said we'd be in a state of a 'permanent hung parliament'; as a theory coalitions might be a good idea, with politicians voting for policies not parties, but I don't know that coalition government actually works out that well in practice. I don't know much but I just have a suspicion that having a strong leading party is a far better idea in terms of getting real changes made. Yes some of those changes might be shit but some of the things that have happened in the last thirteen years have been really good, and arguably wouldn't have happened if we had a more proportional system.

  9. Unfortunately I have a feeling that increasing efficiency has a problem of diminishing returns. There's only so far you can go increasing efficiency, and it's an inherently difficult process. It's far easier to make cuts the old fashioned way.

    Our media really isn't central-left. Broadcast media is bound by law to be impartial, and most papers are right wing. The Telegraph, Times, Express, Mail, Star, and the Sun are all either centre-right or supporting the Tories. On the left, there's the Guardian, the Independent, and the Mirror.

    Most students are left, although it seems to be a bit different at Imperial, I know rather a lot of Tories, and a Libertarian! The reigning political view is utilitarian apathy (“I don't have time to be interested in politics!”).

    I think that while the country at large may have not thought about it much, I think in general we are fairly progressive as a country. Might just be wishful thinking.

    If you want the whole party thing to be shaken up, you should vote Lib Dem. They're the only party to want PR, and if we get PR, it'll shake up the whole system. No longer will every party try and woo just a small fraction of swing voters in marginal constituencies – they'll have to try and convince everyone. It'll be ace.

    I agree with you about being in power for too long is bad. Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely, and our system gives the Government damn well near absolute power.

  10. Most of Europe is run in coalition, so is Wales and Scotland. They're doing fine!

    I just think that we should listen to whatever the will of the people is. That's what democracy is for. What FPTP does, even in the best case, is create a tyranny of the majority – where the will of a relatively small section of the public is vastly amplified.

    Good things that happened in the last 13 years, like the minimum wage, would almost certainly still have passed, because Labour would have got Lib Dem support for it.

    Really bad stuff like the increase in pre-charge detention to 28 days might well have failed.

    It's hard to say, but I really would prefer a system where everybody's vote counts the same, and everyone's voice is heard.

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