UK Election – The morning after

Written By: - Date published: 12:06 am, May 8th, 2010 - 38 comments
Categories: uk politics - Tags: , , ,

The UK election has delivered a complex hung parliament and almost anything seems possible.

At time of writing The Guardian is reporting that David Cameron will soon be making an announcement on “plans to form a strong and stable government” (according to Sky News), and that “Nick Clegg looks to Tories to form government”. But if the New Zealand experience is any guide, coalition building takes a lot longer than that! At the risk of looking like a plonker in the morning, my guess is that negotiations are going to take days at least. AP is reporting: “UK’s top 2 parties locked in election standoff”

38 comments on “UK Election – The morning after”

  1. Lew 1

    Seems to me there’s only one way the mathematics will work, and that’s Tory+Lib Dem. Labour only has the majority if it gets support from LD and all the other minor parties except Sinn Fein and the DUP. That’s the sort of coalition the UK has no stomach for.

    Cameron has reached out to Clegg. Now it just remains for him to name his price.

    I look forward to the Marxists here and hereabouts, and the British Labour party and its international allies cursing his name for selling out his principles and his constituency by propping up a Tory government, calling him a “yellow Tory” and criticising him for failing to achieve tactical policy goals, no matter what important concessions on major strategic matters (such as proportional representation) he might achieve.


    • Ari 1.1

      Frankly, if they deliver meaningful proportional representation, I don’t care too much what else is done, as the rest can be reversed with good electoral reform.

  2. the sprout 2

    Hopefully the UK result will remind the NZ public about the problems of FPP and the benefits of a PR electoral system.

    I think Clegg is in an interesting position. He has a lot of bargaining power right now but the consequences of being associated with any Cameron government may well be quite damaging for the Lib Dems’ long term interests.

    • Draco T Bastard 2.1

      Perhaps we should send him the electoral decline of the Winston First Party after they went with National in 1996 :mrgreen:

  3. Jim Nald 3

    For integrity, the Lib Dems should be encouraged to consider which party would provide better ‘policy fit’ or ‘policy match’ to advance the agenda for which they have campaigned and their voters support.

    Should they think they will play political games, they may well invite the ire of voters who will undoubtedly punish them.

    captcha: neither

  4. sukie Damson 4

    Look at the maths.This must be the dead rat (or fish in a condom) Cameron must swallow to be PM.

  5. Jim Nald 5

    My comment I volunteer to the UK Labour Party:

    Put policy before power
    and thy Kingdom may hold more united
    for you
    in years to come.

    Stake power ahead of policy
    and the fair British isles
    will, even more, turn brutish
    against you.

    captcha: alternatives
    (quite remarkable!)

  6. Jenny 6

    The results though expected are disappointing for Labour.

    And are disgusting and frightening for the future of the people of the UK in the conditions of a recession.

    This shows the cost of what happens to Labour type parties when they embrace neo-liberalism.

    If tory policies are so good, you might as well have the real thing.

    The UK experience mirrors the NZ one. Hung parliaments and knife edge results become the norm when there is hardly any difference between the major parties. This is true even when the electorate encompasses tens of millions of voters as in the US, where the vote can often become decided by a few hundred votes either way.

    The lesson here is that the Labour Party need to find their niche on the political spectrum and stick to it, and not waver about all over the place.

    Over the past decades Labour has been left of the line, under Kirk, more centrist under Rowling, and Clarke who declared her government to be centre left. And of course as we all know, completely crossed the line, under the Lange/Douglas administration.

    The question for Labour here is, will they waver under the pressure of the powerful business and corporate lobbyists, and resile from the latest left policy innitiatives announced in Goff’s alternative budget.

    Time will tell.

    • millsy 6.1

      Yes, there are lot of things that Labour have done or wanted to do in the UK that the Conservatives would have had no trouble doing. Especially when Tony Blair was PM.

      Same with the Clark government really. People tend to forget that the Douglas-Richardson reforms were more or less left in place between 1999 and 2008, no matter how much the Right loves to scream otherwise.

      It doesnt looks like Labour is going to carry on in government – Lab-Lib coalition propped up by a motley crew of Celtic nationalists would be difficult at best, and the tabloids would be having a field day.

    • just saying 6.2

      hear hear.

  7. Name 7

    Clegg is playing an intelligent game, tho’ with a weaker hand than he’d been hoping for.

    Getting a commitment to PR is crucial. If he fails it will simply confirm that a vote for anything other than Labour or Tory is a waste of time. If he succeeds it’s likely that both the Conservative and Labour Parties will fracure, with a UK equivalent of ACT forming to the Right of the Conservatives and many labour voters – who are far more anti-Tory than they are socialist, moving to the Greens or the Lib-Dems. (I believe the Lib-Dem support collapsed when the anti-Tory vote moved back to Labour.)

    Cameron is in a no-win situation. If he agrees to PR he’s dooming the Conservative Party in its present form to unelectability. If he doesn’t, Clegg could with justification claim that the one thing this election has shown is that the system needs changing, and that he must therefore go with Labour – despite its losing the election – in order to effect that change.

    • Lew 7.1

      Pretty good analysis. The one thing Cameron, Brown and Clegg all seem to agree on is the need for “reform of the political system”, though what form this will take remains to be seen. Prior to the past 48 hours, both Brown and Clegg were dead-set against it, while others (notably Mandelson within Labour) have long called for PR. So those priorities will now be put to the test.


  8. I dreamed a dream 8

    Check this out! A online poll says the people overwhelmingly want a Lib Dem-Labour coalition:

    Given the overtures from Gordon Brown and David Cameron, who should Nick Clegg back?
    78.9% Gordon Brown, with his PR referendum deal
    21.1% David Cameron, with his ‘comprehensive offer’

    With that kind of figures, I would venture to say that the support for a Lib Dem-Labour coalition cuts across party lines.

    I would say Nick Clegg (Lib Dem) should go for Labour if he wants to keep his supporters onside and to have PR.

    If he goes for Cameron, all the Labour deserters in Lib Dems will rush back to Labour in the future elections, and PR is off the table, and he will be committing political suicide for him and his party.

    • Lew 8.1

      Shock, readers of the Grauniad hate the Tories. Who would ever have known?


    • Olwyn 8.2

      All too familiar isn’t it, like NZ in the nineties. The desire to punish Labour for having failed to be Labour in the past, offset by fear of the Tories actually being Tories. The hatred of corporatism by a huge section of the population (but not those on a good corporate wage, or those who are happy that their house is worth so much), offset by a fear of what will happen if you piss the corporates off. Tories now try to gain traction by pretending that they are only a little bit Tory, and both Cameron and Key have the look of men who have been selected for one of those 80’s dating shows. Such is modern democracy.

    • Name 8.3

      “I would say Nick Clegg (Lib Dem) should go for Labour if he wants to keep his supporters onside and to have PR.”

      Think back a couple of NZ elections to New Zealand First. The expectation was that Peters would go with Labour and on that basis he gained a lot of support from voters who were unhappy with Labour but distrusted National altogether. Thus they looked to NZF to back Labour, keeping National out but also keeping Labour honest. When Peters faffed around for six weeks playing to the media and then went with National he consigned NZ First to oblivion and even lost his own seat.

      Clegg needs not to offend Conservative voters who are more anti-socialist than Tory, who the Lib-Dems will look to pick up under PR. And having committed to at least initially support the largest party he’d be compromising himself to do otherwise without good reason. PR gives him that reason.

      His intelligent, and politic, move now will be to offer to support the Conservatives on confidence and supply in exchange for a referendum on PR within a year and the result to be implemented at the next election. Let the Tories apply the unpopular but necessary economic medicine, keeping his hands clean of that, and work with Labour to force an election when the new PR rules are in place – say two years down the track.

      • Lew 8.3.1

        Nothing happens that quickly in the old country. Expect terms of reference within a year, a referendum (or whatever) within two, and actual implementation no sooner than 2020.


  9. Sanctuary 9

    If anyone doubts that the Kiwi right wing blogsphere is made up of anti-democratic authoritarian looney tunes, I suggest you do a quick tour of the usual suspects this morning.

    It appears that the freedom lovers of the right are deeply disappointed there isn’t anyone to boss them about, and the solution most frequently offered is to take away the vote from anyone who disagrees with them until they have a government with sufficent jackboots for good spankings all round.

    It is all both scary and hilarious stuff, and should be required reading in every mainstream media newsroom that thinks interviewing their browser and reading the views of these nasty and petulent authoritarians offers a window into the thoughts of mainstream New Zealanders.

  10. outofbed 10

    How many votes for each MP in the UK?

    DUP 21k per mp
    Lab 33.3k
    SF 34.4k
    C 35.1k
    SDLP 37k
    Alliance 43k
    PC 55k
    SNP 81.8k
    LD 119.2k
    Green 284k

  11. Sookie 11

    I have been watching the election results for 24 hours with great interest as I lived in the UK a long time. I recognised Key as a ‘smile and wave’ fraud when I returned home as I remembered Cameron’s ascendancy, as they are peas from the same pod. The Tories have him, Osborne and that nice man Zac Goldsmith, among others, selling the new ‘mildly green and hip’ Tory mirage, but the same nasty old bastards are still kicking around who have no interest in compromising. I cannot see a Tory- Lib Dem coalition lasting, as the Lib Dems will very quickly become frustrated. I predict another election in 2 years.

  12. Sanctuary 12

    If the Lib-Dems are smart they’ll stay out of coalition and support a caretaker government on supply and confidence until electoral reform is in place. They could easily use the mum and apple pie argument of simply being responsible caretakers until a more representative parliament can be elected. Thus, any harsh economic measures taken in the meantime can be blamed on the existing unrepresentative two party duopoly and as soon as they can they’ll be able to pull the pin on Labour or the Tories.

    • Lew 12.1

      I agree with this, but the pressure will come on for economic and public service reforms, in particular debt reduction. Much of this pressure will come from Labour, who will take every opportunity to attack the Tories (and LD by extension) for failing to tackle the economy when they had no clear plan to do so.


  13. Bill 13

    Here’s a wee detail for consideration.

    There was a Treaty of Union signed in 1707 between Scotland and England. Two ‘equal’ partners. Supposedly.

    Anyway,the Tory’s got 2% of the vote and one seat in Scotland. One. (59 contested)

    In Wales they got 20% of the vote and eight seats. ( 40 seats contested)

    So in two out of the three countries that make up Britain, the Tories were…well, lets just say, ‘not too popular’.

    Even in England, it is not until you get to the south that the Tories pick up votes.

    Not familiar enough with the party loyalties of N. Ireland to comment.

    There is a good interactive map (url below) if you’re interested in the numbers and stuff.

    edit…Greens plus Scottish and Welsh Nationalists (who have both stated that they will not work with Tories) amounts to 10 seats

    • Gosman 13.1

      So, what is your point other than the Conservatives are much more popular in the more popular areas of the UK than the less populated celtic areas?

  14. gobsmacked 14

    Some wishful thinking on this thread, I’m afraid.

    The Tories will not agree to PR (i.e. a binding referendum on PR). Full stop. End of story.

    They might agree to an inquiry, a panel, a committee, a fact-finding mission around the globe, a re-branding of FPP (“SeatSexy!”), or any other thing that means nothing at all.

    Cameron might – just might, at a real stretch – agree. His party won’t. A referendum needs to get through Parliament, not just a leader’s press conference. Tory MPs will not vote to lose power.

    It doesn’t matter how hit-you-in-the-face-obvious the case is, for PR (or even, PR-lite). It doesn’t matter that Britain already has PR (e.g. Scotland) and it works fine. It doesn’t matter that 2 plus 2 equals 4.

    What matters is that the people with power want to keep it. So they will.

    I would dearly love to be proved wrong. I hope I am. Can’t see it. Sorry.

  15. RedLogix 15

    The BBC calculated the Conservatives had taken 36 percent of the overall vote, Labour 29 percent and the LibDems 23 percent.

    It’s worth keeping in mind that in policy terms the LibDems are to the left of Labour… and in this sense the left bloc has taken 52% of the vote compared to 36% to the right, yet almost certainly it will be Tory butts warming the Treasury benches. This fact alone tells us how utterly unreal the UK electoral system has become and will lend enormous legitimacy to those voices urging reform.

    • gobsmacked 15.1

      Check out the election results for 1974, 1983, 1987, etc …

      The enormous legitimacy has been there for decades. Nothing has changed.

  16. Mac1 16

    Will You Still Join Me Tomorrow (To Nick Clegg)

    Tonight you find your destiny,
    You give your vote so discretely,
    Tonight the plight of a parliament well hung,
    But will you coalesce tomorrow?

    Will this be a lasting coalition,
    Or just a backseat, fast coition,
    Can I believe your dealings have no lies,
    Will our uniting end in sorrow?

    Tonight the voters have spoken,
    They said you three are the only one,
    But will my party be in power,
    When the Queen (When the Queen)
    Reads the morning paper.

    I’d like to know that your pledge,
    Has no edge I can be unsure of,
    So tell me now and I won’t ask again,
    Will you make history tomorrow?
    Will you be his Tory tomorrow?

  17. If the Lib-Debs go with the Tories there will be a backlash from the lefties in the Debs. They will go back to Labour.
    What is surprising is that dispite the Tory press predicting a huge defeat for Labour this did not happen.In fact seeing that Labour was in power for 13 years their defeat was quite mild. The other interesting point is that once again dispite the Tory media’s non stop attacks on Brown and their allegations that he was a goner, the fact are that his personal majority increased.

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