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British Election 2010 - "Hung Parliament"?





deanhills
I'm surprised that none of the Frihosters from the UK have started a thread on the British Election campaign. A peculiarity is of course that it is the first time in the history of the British Election campaigns that they had TV debates, and I must say all three candidates were excellent. All of these candidates have a gift of the gab, Brown came across slightly as a bully yet the obvious more experienced Senior Statesman, Cameron very smooth and no surprises as a Conservative, and Clegg from an underdog party the Liberal Democrats as Mr. Hopeful, who during his stellar performances managed to put his Party firmly on the map.

No doubt the TV debates made an enormous difference. There were three debates on 15, 22 and 29 April. The debate below was the first one during which Nick Clegg of the Liberal Democratic Party won the debate by a large margin:

Outcome may be that a large number of Labour supporters will now be voting for the Liberal Democrats instead with the result that there may not be a clear majority party after the elections next week of 6 May. In Britain when there is no clear majority, they call it a "hung Parliament" which may mean that the parties may have to make deals with one another, i.e. Labour create an alliance with the Liberal Democrats but Clegg may insist that Gordon Brown relinquish his leadership of the Labour Party.

YahooNews explored a few scenarios:
Quote:
Will Labour finish third yet end up with the most seats — then dump the leader who stumbled into unlikely victory? Will the rightwing Tories enter an awkward alliance with the center-left Liberal Democrats?

Could the ultimate fallout from Britain's election be the radical overhaul of a centuries-old parliamentary system in a nation that jealously guards its traditions?

Strange scenarios abound in Britain's unpredictable election, in which the Tories seem set to win the popular vote yet could end up with fewer seats than Gordon Brown's Labour Party — and the only good bet seems to be that the once innocuous Liberal Democrats will play the role of kingmaker.

"What we might be talking about is a once-in-a-century type of change, which is phenomenal," said Victoria Honeyman, a political analyst at the University of Leeds.

Labour, the main opposition Conservatives, and the election's unlikely insurgents, the once perennial third-place Liberal Democrats, are all expected to be denied an outright majority in the May 6 ballot — an unusual outcome that the British call a "hung parliament." UK elections haven't yielded one since 1974.

The frantic round of political bartering likely to follow, unfamiliar in Britain's usually clear-cut electoral system, could spark a shakeout that may oust party leaders, dismantle the two-party system, and lead to a historic electoral reform.

Polls suggest that Labour will fall far short of the Conservatives and may even be beaten by the Liberal Democrats — but, due to quirks in the electoral system, could still end up with the most seats in the House of Commons.

That would put Clegg in a quandary. Center-left Labour would be the Liberal Democrats' more natural ally, but teaming up with a discredited leader who lost the popular vote could be toxic.

One scenario being floated is that Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg, who shot to prominence on the back of stellar debate performances, would demand that the Brown step down in exchange for backing Labour.
Bikerman
The reason I haven't started a thread on this is basically because I wasn't sure how much general interest there would be, and like any discussion on politics it would quickly get detailed and messy. I'm happy to get involved in that, but I don't know how interesting it would be to many.
As a quick summary I think you've done a pretty reasonable job, but the actual 'feel' is quite different.
To understand this election you have to bear in mind some really important points:
a) Brown was never elected (Blair stepped down), and he actually chose not to call a quick election after hinting that he would do so to legitimise his government with some sort of 'democratic mandate'. He has never fully recovered from that.
b) Labour have been in power for over a decade and whenever that happens the government are going to be in trouble. Small differences widen over the years - especially in politics. Little hurts done to people when in your pomp, suddenly come back in spades when you are struggling. The standard excuse (that you are still cleaning up the mess left by the other lot) doesn't work anymore and basically the government just gets ground down by events. It iis probably a good thing when you think about it, but it happens anyway. The most successful politicians of my lifetime (when measured by electoral success which is, after all, the only measure that really matters to a politician) were Thatcher and Blair. Both managed 3 terms and over a decade but both, in the end, just had to go.
c) Brown is a complex and damaged character. He does not have the qualities which seem to be necessary in modern politics - chiefly an 'accessible personality' and camera 'presence'. I happen to lament the need for such things, but I'm no great admirer of the 'Canute' approach so it has to be recognised as important.
d) Recent scandals over MPs expenses has added to the existing disillusionment of many with the political system in general. The TV debates did a bit to help, and Nick Clegg was bound to be strong since his party were anti-war, and have never actually been in government (or looked remotely like it) - hence people only tend to know a little about the SDP and what they DO know is quite positive.
It is only a sticking plaster, however, and the general trend continues. I would be surprised if any party manages to get much above 10% of the eligible vote..
e) Blair effectively completed a process of making the Labour party into a centre-right party - 'New Labour' and killing off the old 'party of the workers'/socialist image. The result is that there is actually very little to choose between the Tory and Labour parties - they are both pretty similar in terms of policies. The SDP has responded by moving to the left in order to mop-up the labour voters left behind. That's why you hear reports of them sweeping up labour voters. In reality things are a little different. Because of our 'first past the post' system the SDP will never get into power. They regularly poll good numbers, but the reality is that they are also the main working partners of many Tory councils in the south - in fact the SDP are in coalition with the Torys in far more councils than with Labour. This means their vote is spread pretty evenly over the country. Our system penalises that. If all 3 parties polled 30% of the total vote then the SDP would be almost nowhere. Labour would win the seats in the industrial and poorer areas and the SDP would be second. The Tories would win in the shires and richer areas, with the SDP second. The SDP would be left with the scraps. That is their history over the last decades and is why they are so insistent that the voting system must change.
f) The Tory party self-destructed after (well, actually during) Thatcher. The issue of Europe is toxic to them. Most 'traditional' Tories (right wing) are dead set against Europe. That is not a tenable political position if in Government, so in a very similar way to labour in the 80s (when the party adopted several policies - such as unilateral disarmament - which made it effectively unelectable) the Tory party has been unelectable for a decade. Cameron has tried to do with the Tory party what Blair finished for the Labour party - move it to the centre. This means the Tory's are possibly just about electable - memories of the previous governments have dimmed and the relentless presentation of Tory=caring (rather than Tory=ruthless rather bigoted but financially prudent) has had some effect.

Too close to call at the moment. I predict a hung parliament and the last one of those we had would occupy another posting even longer than this one, so I'll leave it 'hanging' Smile
truespeed
Brown knew he wasn't going to win the election,i think the reason he agreed to the three way tv debate rather than the two way (Conservatives and Labour) was because he was hoping (and as it has turned out) that Nick Clegg would make enough of an impression to make sure the Conservatives don't get enough of the electoral vote to form a Government. I think he thought his best shot of remaining as prime minister would be if there was a hung parliament,but it looks like it has backfired as Clegg as publically stated that he won't support the Leader with the fewest votes.

The whole of their election campaigns can be summed up in one word. (The word each leader uses in almost every other sentence they utter)

Conservatives > Change (It worked for Obama so Cameron figures it will work for him)
Lib Dems > Different
Labour > Substance
Bikerman
Clegg WILL work with Brown if it gets him into power - take that as a prediction if you like.
I refuse to believe his apparent statement to the contrary and, I'm betting he has, or will soon, take it back.
truespeed
Bikerman wrote:
Clegg WILL work with Brown if it gets him into power - take that as a prediction if you like.
I refuse to believe his apparent statement to the contrary and, I'm betting he has, or will soon, take it back.


I think if Brown agreed to a change in the voting system (propotional representation) then yeah he probably would,but then Clegg from what i can gather is making that a requirement of whoever he backs,so Cameron may have to deal first if he wants to become PM.

I think Party politics in general doesn't matter anymore,all the old party values have gone as each party moves towards the middle ground to ensure as many votes as possible,so it has become more about personalities than policies as was born out by Nick Cleggs appearence in the first TV debate,a week earlier the Lib Dems were nowhere in the polls,and a surprising amount of people didn't even know who Nick Clegg was,but one appearence on TV and he and his party were leading the polls.
deanhills
truespeed wrote:
Brown knew he wasn't going to win the election,i think the reason he agreed to the three way tv debate rather than the two way (Conservatives and Labour) was because he was hoping (and as it has turned out) that Nick Clegg would make enough of an impression to make sure the Conservatives don't get enough of the electoral vote to form a Government. I think he thought his best shot of remaining as prime minister would be if there was a hung parliament,but it looks like it has backfired as Clegg as publically stated that he won't support the Leader with the fewest votes.

The whole of their election campaigns can be summed up in one word. (The word each leader uses in almost every other sentence they utter)

Conservatives > Change (It worked for Obama so Cameron figures it will work for him)
Lib Dems > Different
Labour > Substance
Good summary, I find your insight about Brown's expectation of not being re-elected interesting. For once I hope that the Conservatives won't make it, because if they do, there may be a situation where the majority or close to majority seats could be Labour seats and the Conservatives not being able to move forwards or backwards. It would probably be good if the Labour came in, but hopefully with a new leader. I'm not so sure that Brown is good for the Labour Party from getting votes point of view?

I agree with you. Those debates have completely changed the fortunes of the Liberal Democrats. If that had been the aim of Brown's, then well done. I really enjoyed the debates. I'm sure they are even an improvement over the US Presidential Debates, as they were exceptionally well organized, polished, passionate, and superbly moderated. Definitely something for the Brits to be proud off as a first.

truespeed wrote:
I think Party politics in general doesn't matter anymore,all the old party values have gone as each party moves towards the middle ground to ensure as many votes as possible,so it has become more about personalities than policies as was born out by Nick Cleggs appearence in the first TV debate,a week earlier the Lib Dems were nowhere in the polls,and a surprising amount of people didn't even know who Nick Clegg was,but one appearence on TV and he and his party were leading the polls.
Another interesting insight. Although, was that not already the case when Blair got voted in the first time?
Bikerman
Blair was chosen by the party (or at least allowed to choose himself) largely because they believed it was time to play a 'smarter' game and stop being portrayed as unelectable commies with no common sense or touch.
The labour party made a Faustian pact. They knew Blair was more Tory than Labour but he had the 'touch' and was liked by a hugely important demographic - middle aged women in the home shires and counties.
As I said earlier, labour win big in their seats and the Tories win big in their 'safe' seats. The SDP get squeezed by the system. Labour HAD to win seats in Tory heartland to gain power and those women were crucial.

Of course politicians have been aware of, and dependant on, the media for decades, but Blair brought it to a new level. What started as a perfectly reasonable resolve not to get caught out again arguing amongst themselves, looking undisciplined and a rabble - turned into Blair's 'government by teeth'. Smile, grin, smile, meaningless truism, smile, serious face, clenched hands and sincere warmth, back to smile, etc etc.
I say this partly in admiration because I was pretty active in Labour in those days and Blair fooled me (or more accurately we fooled ourselves, because we knew he wasn't labour, but we were so anxious to get rid of the tories that the deal looked worth it).

Since that time - the last decade or so - there has been little ideology in government at all. I'll bet that most people in the UK could easily mix the labour and tory manifestos up, if they didn't know already which was which. I'll bet that hardly any people could tell you what the broad-stroke political differences were between the two and why sort of things each would be more likely to introduce. It isn't that these people are thick or inattentive. That is how it is. Since everyone bought into world captalism then the only things to argue about are trivial matters of detail. Should we privatise, or should we do Private Finance Initiative (the same but different). Should we shift the burden of taxation more onto the poor, or should we give tax breaks to the rich (different but the same). And so on through almost the entire portfolio of both parties.
deanhills
Bikerman wrote:
Since that time - the last decade or so - there has been little ideology in government at all. I'll bet that most people in the UK could easily mix the labour and tory manifestos up, if they didn't know already which was which. I'll bet that hardly any people could tell you what the broad-stroke political differences were between the two and why sort of things each would be more likely to introduce.
I was quite impressed by an observation by Nick Clegg, while Cameron and Brown were taking one another on towards the end of the first debate. He said something to the equivalent of that the more Cameron and Brown argue about their differences, the more alike they appear to be. I thought that was right on.
gandalfthegrey
The problem for Nick Clegg:
Liberal Democratic Party support is spread across the country more, whereas Labour and Conservatives have more concentrated regions where they get their support. For Labour, urban regions and industrial towns and cities of the mid-lands, north and wales. Conservatives in suburban and rural communities. LibDems support is concentrated in particular regions and areas throughout England, Wales and Scotland. They would have to be at 40% or more in the polls for them to be able to make an electoral breakthrough and win a majority of seats.
gandalfthegrey
My prediction: Minority parliament. Probably Labour minority government, unless the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats can come together and form a coalition government.

I also won't be surprised to see the Green party elect their leader in Brighton as the first Green MP.
truespeed
deanhills wrote:
Good summary, I find your insight about Brown's expectation of not being re-elected interesting. For once I hope that the Conservatives won't make it, because if they do, there may be a situation where the majority or close to majority seats could be Labour seats and the Conservatives not being able to move forwards or backwards. It would probably be good if the Labour came in, but hopefully with a new leader. I'm not so sure that Brown is good for the Labour Party from getting votes point of view?


Brown isn't really TV friendly,he has looked really uncomfortable this week wandering around pressing the flesh and smiling,smiling doesn't come naturally to him. I think if it wasn't for the fact that Tony Blair handed over power to him,he would of never of been Prime Minister. Thats not to say he is not good at the job,i thought when the whole world went tits up with the banking crisis,he handled it all well,quickly bailing out the banks (A stratagey that other countries adopted. )

deanhills wrote:

I agree with you. Those debates have completely changed the fortunes of the Liberal Democrats.


The Lib dems seem to be changing their position in recent days,it looks like they are willing to deal with the Conservatives (Who the polls suggest will win but probably by not enough to claim an overall majority) without making proportional representation one of their stipulations.

deanhills wrote:


Another interesting insight. Although, was that not already the case when Blair got voted in the first time?


Blair definately transformed Labour and repackaged them under the banner of New Labour,Labour before Blair was unelectable,so it needed to be modernized.
deanhills
truespeed wrote:
Brown isn't really TV friendly,he has looked really uncomfortable this week wandering around pressing the flesh and smiling,smiling doesn't come naturally to him. I think if it wasn't for the fact that Tony Blair handed over power to him,he would of never of been Prime Minister. Thats not to say he is not good at the job,i thought when the whole world went tits up with the banking crisis,he handled it all well,quickly bailing out the banks (A stratagey that other countries adopted. )
Some people who may not even agree with his politics, may have a soft spot for him then? Like a bull dog you like to pat on the head Smile I guess he must have been growing on most people, and acting like a bull in a china shop when the financial crisis unfolded most have earned him some brownie points. Not many world leaders who acted as fast as he did. Great that Britain was not part of the EU at that time so that it would have had to consult with everyone in the EU first. Smile

truespeed wrote:
The Lib dems seem to be changing their position in recent days,it looks like they are willing to deal with the Conservatives (Who the polls suggest will win but probably by not enough to claim an overall majority) without making proportional representation one of their stipulations.
Wow! That was about the last thing I would have expected from Nick Clegg. Siding with the conservatives. I guess he must be doing it along the lines of the Conservatives being likely to pull more votes, and may be more flexible than Labour in getting what the Liberal Democrats really want, along the means justify the end lines?
truespeed wrote:
Blair definately transformed Labour and repackaged them under the banner of New Labour,Labour before Blair was unelectable,so it needed to be modernized.
I've never liked Labour but Blair was certainly different and refreshing. And I must say, I did like the guy. At least he communicated on a regular basis. I was just wondering whether there are some similarities between the transformation of the Dems when Obama started his Presidential Election campaign? Although I must say, once elected, Obama seemed to have reverted to the old model albeit with much improved marketing skills.
Bikerman
deanhills wrote:
Some people who may not even agree with his politics, may have a soft spot for him then? Like a bull dog you like to pat on the head Smile I guess he must have been growing on most people, and acting like a bull in a china shop when the financial crisis unfolded most have earned him some brownie points. Not many world leaders who acted as fast as he did. Great that Britain was not part of the EU at that time so that it would have had to consult with everyone in the EU first. Smile
I think you are confused. Britain has been in the EU for many years. You might mean that we are not in the common currency ?
Quote:
Wow! That was about the last thing I would have expected from Nick Clegg. Siding with the conservatives. I guess he must be doing it along the lines of the Conservatives being likely to pull more votes, and may be more flexible than Labour in getting what the Liberal Democrats really want, along the means justify the end lines?
He's a politician. I also note that, as I predicted, he has now said he WILL work with labour if it happens...
truespeed
I notice the polls this morning suggest less support for the Lib Dems,maybe people are scared of the unknown with a hung parliament and a vote for the Lib dems in large enough numbers almost guarentees this will happen.
deanhills
Bikerman wrote:
You might mean that we are not in the common currency ?
Right, thanks for clarifying that. We had this discussion about a year ago as well when we were discussing EU documentation, when you pointed the membership out as well.
Bikerman wrote:
Quote:
Wow! That was about the last thing I would have expected from Nick Clegg. Siding with the conservatives. I guess he must be doing it along the lines of the Conservatives being likely to pull more votes, and may be more flexible than Labour in getting what the Liberal Democrats really want, along the means justify the end lines?
He's a politician. I also note that, as I predicted, he has now said he WILL work with labour if it happens...
Right, that has to be disappointing for many. At the same time practical as well. Looks as though no politican can be voted in on 100% integrity to his campaign undertakings. They have to be able to compromise, and that is not necessarily completely negative either, as when they come to be elected, it is all about negotiation and compromise anyway.
truespeed
Still some results to come in as i type,but it is going to be a hung parliament.

Link to latest results

So it looks like its going to be deal time,the constitution states that Gordon Brown as the sitting prime minister gets the chance to form a Government.but with the Conservatives getting the most votes and seats a lot of people will see that as an untenable option,especially as Gordon Brown was never elected PM in the first place,and hasn't won when put to the public vote.

Something interesting i heard on TV this morning was Peter Mandelson,not ruling out Labour doing a deal without Gordon Brown,so perhaps knowing all of the above labour will try to keep power by replacing Brown with someone like Miliband.

I think the right option would be to allow Cameron and the Conservatives to form a Government,as although they didn't get the required 326 seats,they are the majority party and seemingly the one the most people in the UK want to be in Government.
truespeed
Update: Clegg has said he will support the Conservatives as they are the majority party. So its looking likely Cameron will be the next Prime Minister.

Its not done and dusted yet though because if the Lib Dems can't reach a deal with the Conservatives,then Labour could still retain power if they then do a deal with the Lib Dems.
gandalfthegrey
I'm shocked by the failure of the Liberal Democrats to make a break through. I guess we shouldn't be surprised, as third parties/candidates in English-speaking democracies seem to always fail. Ross Perot in 1992 and 1996. The New Democratic Party (socialists) in Canada.

Happy to see the Green Party make a break through. Shocked that Lembit Opik lost in a very safe Lib-Dem seat. Not surprised that George Galloway's RESPECT Party imploded.
deanhills
truespeed wrote:
Update: Clegg has said he will support the Conservatives as they are the majority party. So its looking likely Cameron will be the next Prime Minister.

Its not done and dusted yet though because if the Lib Dems can't reach a deal with the Conservatives,then Labour could still retain power if they then do a deal with the Lib Dems.
Actually quite hilarious in the end as Nick Clegg gets to choose who is going to lead the Government.
Very interesting politics going on, and Friday must have been a very interesting day in the history of elections in the UK? Also going to be tough times ahead, as Cameron won't have a real majority to work with if he gets to be the Prime Minister. I still wish for Labour however, as if there is no clear majority for either, at least there would be a semblance of status quo with regard to saving the economy. Looks as though the Footsie and the Pound Sterling are receiving a real beating so hope decisions will be taken soon, instead of bickering about legislation that needs to be changed.

The quotes below from YahooNews is just for other Frihosters who may be interested to know what the results have been:
Quote:
Final results in Thursday's election gave the Conservatives 306 seats it the 650 seat House of Commons. Labour won 258 seats, the Liberal Democrats 57, and smaller parties 28. Voting in one constituency was postponed until later this month because of the death of a candidate.
The Conservatives were short of 20 votes, as they needed 326 to form a majority Government.

This was also quite a good insight in the above YahooNews article I thought:
Quote:
It was an election that confounded political certainties: What appears a Conservative victory is a defeat for reforming leader Cameron. The Liberal Democrats' poor showing still leaves them kingmakers. And the battered Brown could stay prime minister despite Labour's worst showing in decades.

"I have a feeling Gordon Brown will have to be dragged from No. 10 with his fingernails in the door posts," said Victoria Honeyman, a lecturer in politics at the University of Leeds.

For Cameron, a bicycle-riding graduate of Eton and Oxford who staked his leadership on returning the Conservatives to power after 13 years, the result is less than a triumph. The Tories fell short of a majority that only a few months ago was considered inevitable, and Cameron's right-wing opponents within the party may prevent him offering concessions to the Europhile, civil libertarian Liberal Democrats.
deanhills
Looks as though Clegg has received the go ahead to start talks with the Conservatives. I like where he is headed with his emphases in the negotiations, especially the break-up of the Big Banks:
Quote:
Liberal Democrats would put the emphasis in the negotiations on “four big priorities.” Those are changes to the voting system to give smaller parties greater representation in Parliament, an end to income tax for 3.6 million low earners, a breakup of big banks and cutting school class sizes.

Source: Bloomberg.com
truespeed
I think the stumbling block won't be policies or doing things in the national interst,but the Liberals trying to get proportional representation,ie: doing things in self interest.

While i agree the current electoral process isn't fair,as it always short changes the Lib Dems who get significant votes that don't really transfer into comparable seats in the commons,but to have that system would mean a hung Parliament every time we had an election. I am not against electoral reform but it needs to be thought through,not just rushed through as part of a deal maker.
deanhills
truespeed wrote:
I am not against electoral reform but it needs to be thought through,not just rushed through as part of a deal maker.
I have a feeling that all the parties would agree with you on this one. Probably would need to be put to the vote as well?
truespeed
deanhills wrote:
truespeed wrote:
I am not against electoral reform but it needs to be thought through,not just rushed through as part of a deal maker.
I have a feeling that all the parties would agree with you on this one. Probably would need to be put to the vote as well?


Cameron has now offered the Lib Dems a referendum on porportional representation,so it was obviously a big sticking point to them doing a deal,this won't stop the Conservatives opposing it once it goes to a public vote.

Meanwhile on the other side of the house,Gordon Brown has announced he is to resign,a new Labour leader will be appointed in the autumn,also coincidently or not the Lib Dems are now in talks with Labour,so we could still end up with a Lib/lab pact rather than a Lib/Con pact.
Bikerman
Personally I think there is no stable solution to this. The Lib Dems can't seriously work with the tories for any period. Sooner or later they will 'revert to type' and start slashing services and cutting taxes. At that point Clegg and co are not seriously going to consider propping them up.
The same for Labour. Brown has said he will go as a political move to draw the LibDems in (it is well known that Clegg cannot stand him), but there is no way the LibDems would want to support a rejected party and leave the party that won the biggest share out in the cold.

Prediction - shaky pact of some sort, probably Lib-Con, which will founder and fail within a few months leading to another election.
deanhills
Bikerman wrote:
Prediction - shaky pact of some sort, probably Lib-Con, which will founder and fail within a few months leading to another election.
Good point. Interesting politics however.

I like the reference in the media about all three parties being the losers. There are clearly no winners in this, and the people in the UK, as well as those with investments in the UK, are losers as well.
truespeed
Gordon Brown resigned and David Cameron has become (quite rightly) the new Prime Minister.


Gordon managed to annoy most of the television watching public with the timing of his resignation.

See facebook group.
deanhills
truespeed wrote:
Gordon Brown resigned and David Cameron has become (quite rightly) the new Prime Minister.


Gordon managed to annoy most of the television watching public with the timing of his resignation.

See facebook group.
I'm totally impressed with how all of it went. As well as the speed, considering all the complicated bits that everyone had to deal and negotiate with. And out with the old and in with the young. Going to be a very interesting coalition Government, especially with Clegg in the second seat. Apparently Obama was the first to congratulate Cameron, which to me is a bit strange, given that (if I am correct) Cameron advocated loosening the intimate ties that B&B had fostered with the US Presidents. Would be great if the Brits can get their act together as Cameron promised. And then hopefully my funds will at least get its value back.

I never liked Gordon Brown. Especially when he was chief in charge of Finances under Blair. On the one hand I do feel sorry for him, has to be quite an emotional moment for him and his family, but Blair to me was a much more positive and energetic leader than Brown was. Brown looked like a bully to me, easy to fly off the handle. Blair perhaps more of a diplomat and tactician and better able to listen to others and work within a team.
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