Category Archives: election2010

Why I’m happy with a coalition government

I’m actually pretty pleased with the government we have – I wanted to vote for a Liberal Democrat party that wasn’t so keen on the Euro, so I guess this is as close as we’re going to get to what I wanted. For me it’s a great result.

As I’ve said before, the economy is the most important thing a government has to look after; it is upon it that everything else depends. With a strong economy the government has money to spend. What it chooses to spend on is a matter of political debate, but it’s a debate not worth having if there is no money. As has been shown, even the strongest of economies can only borrow so much for so long.

With this new coalition we appear to have a meeting of minds economically. Nick Clegg would appear to be a classical liberal economically, which makes his general view of the way the economy should be run not much different in thrust to the Tories. Of course there may be detail disagreements, and most of them will stem from thoughts on how the government should spend it’s money, rather than the way it should run the economy.

Being in coalition is a great check on the extremes of any party. Can you imagine the poll tax legislation getting passed if Thatcher had to get it past not only her own party, but a coalition partner too? And can you imagine the ludicrous ID card scheme being passed by a Labour government in coalition? Or the decision to invade Iraq being made?

Hopefully what we have is a coalition of parties who are like-minded realistic about the economy, and who will temper each others wilder flights of fancy. Already we’ve seen the Lib Dems give up on their immigrant amnesty plan, and the Conservatives give up their inheritance tax plans.

It’s going to be an interesting 5 years, and hopefully the press will get bored of trying to find the cracks soon. Obviously there have been compromises; there had to be. It doesn’t matter if they were made in the national interest or for political expediency; they had to be made (I happen to think the former as it happens). I also hope the left wing will give up their moaning; it’s undignified. Their argument appears to be ‘a coalition is not what anyone wanted, and the Lib Dems should be in coalition with us’ which, I think, boils down to ‘waaaaah s’not fair.’

I think it will last five years for the reason Michael Heseltine gave on Question Time last night – the government is going to have to do some very unpopular things to get the deficit down as it has to, so there is no way it’s going to risk an election campaign until the economy is on a definite upswing – which will be a few years yet. That is reason enough to keep the Tories honest, and the Lib Dems too, although of course they have the added incentive of perhaps returning to third party status at the next election (because somehow some of their voters feel betrayed that that party that voted for has got itself into the only position of power available to it and now has influence over government policy) on top of the fact that the Lib Dems simply can’t afford another election campaign.

We have the government we have. Given the results it’s the only stable government we could have had. That’s democracy as delivered by our voting system. We now have to live with it, but I personally think it might just be quite succesful. It’ll be interesting to see how the coalition partners campaign in 2015 though.

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UNITE on a Lab-Lib Coalition

On the 5th may 2008, Unite gave the largest single cash donation received by the Rother Valley Constituency Labour Party as recorded by the Electoral Commission.

Today the leaders of Unite releasd this statement – as reported by the Guardian:

As you know Labour are now in formal talks with the Liberal Democrats to see if we can agree a stable government to secure the economic recovery and change our politics. Together we can form a progressive coalition, a coalition that would reflect that over 60% of the population rejected the Tories last week.

The argument that ‘60% of people didn’t vote for the Conservatives and therefore a government made up of the second and third place parties who together received 52% of the vote is legitimate’ is an interesting one.

I guess it’s the same as saying ‘it doesn’t matter who won, a coalition of the losers is more legitimate as long as if together they got more than 50% of the vote’

I wonder if they’re hoping we don’t notice that over 70% of the electorate didn’t vote for the Labour party?

I wonder too if either Unite, or Kevin Barron would therefore recognise the legitimacy of a coalition of those candidates for the constituency who together received more than his 41%? After all, almost 60% of the population of the Rother Valley constituency rejected Kevin Barron last week.

I’m guessing not.

Does anyone know if Kevin Barron has ever made a public statement on his views on proportional representation, by the way?

Jim Naughtie on a coalition

I only caught the end of this this morning, but it sounded superb. Will listen to the beginning when I finish work.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/today/hi/today/newsid_8669000/8669573.stm

Kevin Barron’s statement on winning the Rother Valley seat

“I am very pleased to have been in office for so long and for my votes to have just gone down by 2,000,”

“It was a good turnout which is great for democracy.”

“I need to see what the shape of Government is going to be tomorrow (Friday) before I can say anything about policies, but I want to look after my constituency and the people who live in it- and that’s what I will be doing whatever the result.”

Source: Dinnington Today

As predicted, and more predictions…

Kevin Barron is once again our MP, and is the longest serving MP the Rother Valley has ever had.

His share of the vote fell by 10.6%, with an 8% swing from Labour to Conservative, significantly more than the national swing of 5%, but this still leaving him with a majority of 5,866 – much less than last time, but then the constituency is slightly different, so it’s hard to be certain of the figures.

It’d be fascinating to know what Kevin Barron’s views on what he thinks will happen now are, but alas I suspect all MPs – no matter how much they ‘have a mind of their own and do not always agree with their party’ are under strict instructions to keep quiet until the dust settles.

My prediction is some sort of uncomfortable Lib-Con alliance that will not have the full support of a lot of members of either party will emerge, and which the Labour party will claim is illegitimate as it give the Lib Dems more power than them, much as they cared about the possibility of the electoral system throwing up such an anomaly when they were hedging their bets by cosying up to the Lib Dems in 1997 before they had won their landslide.

I suspect too that the turmoil in the Euro zone and the uncertainty over the strength of our government will lead to a little wobble in the (fragile) recovery, which may then become a major fall if it causes confidence to evaporate. Under such pressure an already fragile alliance will begin to splinter, and we’ll have another election in 12 months – only this time the Labour prediction of a double-dip may well have proven correct through no fault of the incoming government, but that government will have already begun to make the painful cuts that everyone agrees are necessary to correct for 13 years of Labour profligacy.

In a year, Labour will have a new leader (Alistair Darling please) so will be free of the burden of carrying Gordon’s baggage, and will have the tremendous benefit of being (luckily) correct about there being a double dip, which they can pin on the Conservatives and the Lib Dems, and they will be free of blame for the painful cuts the Con-Lib coalition will have made, even though those cuts were necessary because of their mismanagement of the economy. So, much to my surprise, I can see a tiny Labour majority in 2011.

Of course the Con-Lib’s will know all this too, so perhaps they will be able to keep it together long enough to avoid this happening. It’s going to be a hell of a show though. EDIT – Nick Robinson makes the excellent point that as well as the Tories wanting to avoid another election any time soon (he adds to my reasoning that they will be unpopular in the short term the Tory shock at Labour’s resilience) the Lib Dems can’t really afford to mount another campaign soon, so they too will want the alliance, if one emerges, to last.

Party Funding Donations in the Rother Valley

The electoral commission has a list of donors to the parties standing in the Rother Valley, which you can read here.

Lynda Donaldson has tweeted about the Labour Party being funded by the unions (as though that were news):

Labour reliant on the trade unions, in 2009 the unions provided 60% of Labour’s funding, does your MP receive Union funding from UNITE??????

But at least we know who the Unions are, and what their agenda is. We can only speculate as to who the major donor to the Rother Valley campaign for the Conservative party is, what his motivation is, or what influence he has.

How much is your vote worth? Not much.

Because of the vagaries of the first past the post voting system, a vote in one constituency is not necessarily worth the same as one a vote in another.

In fact a vote in the Rother Valley is worth 0.045 of a vote, according to voterpower.org.uk. The average UK vote is worth over five times as much as a vote in the Rother Valley, and almost half the votes cast count for nothing as they are for candidates other than the winner.

When no-one is quite sure whether the party getting the second highest number of votes will come second or third, or whether the winning party will get the most votes, and when most people agree that the third party will get disproportionately few seats, it is surely time to reform the electoral system?

All we are certain of at the moment is that whoever becomes the governing party, more people will have voted for other parties than for them.