At 4:15 am I went off to bed (this morning) realising that no-one was going to win the General Election; then woke-up a few hours later to realise that something had won the election.
Constitutional and Electoral Reform.
If you think about it (and this is on the basis of the latest projections) no one party can form a coalition majority government, but only the Labour Party and the Liberal Democrats can form a strong, and yes possibly stable, government. Why is that?
The Conservatives have only one minority nationalist party that they could form a pact with and the anti-Conservative vote in the House of Commons would not lead them to be able to provide strong and stable government whatever and however often their spokesmen propose that they can. The anti-Tory vote is massive. Over 51% (at this moment in time) of those that voted support either Labour or the LibDems. The Tories have only the support of 25% of the electorate – hardly a mandate to govern.
Now look at the possibilities. If you have two “weak” parties that depend upon each other – you have the basis for a strong coalition (not a pact) government. This is what our European partners have always had to live with. You can have a strong and stable coalition based upon an agreed programme. They don’t need to have the majority of seats because they have natural allies in the SDLP and Greens and the SDP and PC are already used to the idea of Proportional Representation and minority government or coalition and know how it works. So, an agreed programme without an overall majority – but more seats than the Tories actually works.
Moreover it works better because the Labour Party have not got more seats. They have to commit to Constitutional and Electoral Reform and it needs a full-term (or near full-term) parliament to get it through. Therefore the programme becomes more obvious and one that can be portrayed as “we listened to the people”. What an opportunity to show that coalition’s need not necessarily be weak and unstable. The two parties have a duty now to get on with it and sign-up for a government of change.
What’s more this programme will have NO opposition from the other minority parties as under PR they would have done better in Scotland and Wales and of course the Greens would expect to make gains as well. And as for the sometimes suggested threat of the BNP and UKIP getting a foothold – on last night’s showing … their programmes have been found lacking and not supported. So less of a threat there.
So, from personal melancholy to possible excitement. Now the challenge Nick and Gordon is to get together and make it work. Make it transparent and open. Explain at every step what you’re doing. Be supportive of each other, of each other’s position and of course demonstrate that in our current economic challenges you can form a cross-party consensus for what needs to be done. Isolate the nationalists and their opportunistic demands.
Go to it! I’m depending on you!