Saturday, 8 May 2010

Some Points about Scottish and English Politics

Just a few thoughts on the post election apocalypse, as BBC News 24 would have it.

I do not think most people that are adult in England probably remember the deals that were struck in the '70's to form governments. You'd have to be, what around 55 or so and a precocious child to recall the negotiations that took place. Personally I had to remind myself of the details! So, there is a complete lack of  personal experience of the situation.

Scots, and the Welsh and those in Northern Ireland have lived with coalition government or minority government for years past. To that extent, you have a more sophisticated electorate and one that doesn't think the sky is falling down if it happens. It has happened and it is a non - event. 

Gordon Brown has conducted himself entirely constitutionally and correctly in continuing to remain Prime Minister. It astonishes me that folk seem to assume he should have simply handed the keys to Number 10 to Cameron and walked away.

What? Without Cameron having the opportunity to form a government? Because he certainly wouldn't have had the opportunity if that had been the case.

He would have been a hostage to being voted down on the first substantive issue, probably the vote on the Queens Speech, or his first budget.

Reasonable transfer arrangements have to be put in place, and as soon as possible, obviously.


I think that Scottish Liberal Democrats are being handed a poisoned chalice. It is very difficult to imagine that Scots voted for them on the assumption that they would ally themselves with the Tories. If the Lib Dems do enter a coalition or other enabling arrangement with the Conservatives, I think it will have a toxic effect on their votes North of the border. I would be astonished if Scottish Liberal MPs were unaware of that. They could face a situation where they were decimated.

There is sufficient evidence, I think, that Scotland drew it's skirts in at this election and voted substantially for anyone that would keep the Tories out. The fact that the chances that a Tory might get elected applied, reasonably, to only four of five constituencies did not matter. The fear of running away from matrons apron strings had an overwhelming effect on Scottish voting intentions.

Which is a distortion of our own politics, dancing to opinion polls that were completely unrepresentative of what would happen on election day.


Finally, it seems to me that there is a huge naiveté amongst English voters on what happens in the event of a hung parliament, one with no overall majority. There is an assumption that the largest party has a mandate to govern without taking account whatsoever of the aspirations of whosoever it's minority partners might be.

What the UK voted for is compromise.

You probably had to compromise when you cast your vote. It is a party political robot that actually believes every nuance of a political parties manifesto. I do not, for instance, completely subscribe to the SNP policy on nuclear power, but it is a relatively minor issue for me.

However when political parties are asked to make similar compromises they jibe at it. The Tories, for instance may see PR as a sticking point, just because; or alternately cutting £6bn from this years budget may be a sticking point for the LibDems.

Yet, these are the compromises that we all have to make in relationships and in casting our votes.

I see no reason why they should not be expected to do exactly the same thing.

There was no knockout blow in this General Election and, frankly, that ought to be enough to shake our political class out of their almost eternal lethargy.

I live in hope....

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