Wednesday, 12 May 2010

Election 2010: what has our world come to?

So, after nearly a week of blissful limbo, we have a government, the first Conservative lead one for thirteen years and the first coalition since the second World War. Gladstone must be turning in his grave.

Without wishing to be partisan, I have some serious misgivings about this coalition. There are some very obvious problems with the new power-sharing agreement:

First, the provision for the LibDems to abstain on budget - and some other - resolutions leaves the Tories with 308 out of 593 voting MPs (ie. 650 less the Libs), a majority of 23.

Second, the 55% of MPs required to dissolve Parliament before the end of the proposed five year fixed term requires 358 to vote for it but there are only 342 non-Tories, 16 short of the 55% needed.

Just a couple of examples of a mathematical stitch-up.

So, if the LibDems abstain from voting on something they disagree with, the Tories still get their way. This smacks of un-democracy. I gather this also applies to all things nuclear. This means the LibDems can stand up and say "we didn't vote for it" but, really, they will have done just that since, without their votes against, the opposition cannot win and, similarly, with their abstention, the Government cannot lose. Something wrong here.

On the second point, the LibDems cannot, if they fall out of bed with the Tories, help to bring down an unelected Government (and, for all Hague's nonsense about Brown being unelected, what exactly is Cameron's majority again?) even with a combined 53% of MPs. It has always been a simple majority and should stay that way. The other side of the coin, of course, is that the Tories cannot simply resign when the going gets tough but, somehow, I doubt they would do that anyway.

Elsewhere, I wonder why Clegg has gone for the prestige of DPM rather than having a portfolio and being able to make a real difference. He may say he has more influence this way but the first time he and Cameron disagree, well, no prizes for guessing who is going to get his way.
Similarly, Vince Cable ("InVinceCable": almost a super-hero but not quite) may be nominally in charge of banking reform but does anyone seriously think Osborne is going to let him do anything that might upset the Tory paymasters? OK, so the LibDems have Scotland but only because the Scots have roundly rejected the Tories who therefore want as little to do with them as possible.

It is very disappointing that we were promised a new kind of government yet, when you read the text and, no doubt, listen to what the players themselves will have to say over the coming days and weeks, what we have is a minority Conservative government which has successfully pulled the wool over the eyes of the LibDem leaders to give them exactly what they - and only just over a third of those electors who chose to vote  (or about 22% of the elctorate) - want.

This is in no way democracy.


  1. Exactly - well put James!

    Also, as a Labour voter and supprter of electoral reform, where does this leave someone like me (who the Lib Dems prsumably want to vote yes in a referendum)? Won't peole assume voting yes to PR/AV = years of CONDEM?


    Anyway that's enough whine (sic)

    Tim D

  2. I think it's reasonable to assume that the LibDems won't always ally themselves to the Tories - they are, after all, more natural allies of Labour so PR would presumably benefit that coalition in future (which is, I guess, why the Conservatives have always been set against it). However, it is worrying that a party that regularly polls under 25% of the vote will hold the balance of power. That said, they haven't exactly made the most of it this time!

    Now, back to the wine...