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A day of the long knives?

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A day of the long knives?

Postby ruggie » Fri 7 May 2010 08:26 GMT

I can't see Gordon Brown standing down of his own volition.

Mandy hinted (by omission) that Lib Dems might accept a coalition with a different labour leader. This might be a way for them to avoid long term damage by being seen to prop up a party that clearly lost the election just for a chance to change the voting system.

Does Labour actually have an emergency procedure for replacing a leader? Can they quickly do what the Conservatives did to Maggie? Or is Cameron the only leader who can actually put together a proposal before the end of the day?
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Postby Dave » Fri 7 May 2010 12:15 GMT

I'm not sure whether that'd be constitutionally acceptable, Ruggie - although it's a bit hard to say when so much of our constitution's unwritten convention. Doesn't it have to be Gordon Brown personally as the Queen's first minister - even if he commits himself to step down immediately the Govt's formed?
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Postby ruggie » Fri 7 May 2010 17:03 GMT

Yes, that's what the profesors are saying. Gordon remains in charge unless he resigns. Given his inability to take any tough decision, that could mean he stays until he gets a vote of no confidence for Queen's Speech - unless Mandy has the power to remove him as leader of the Labour Party and try to broker a coalition :twisted:

Interesting times.
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Postby ruggie » Sat 8 May 2010 18:27 GMT

Well, here's the first knife
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Postby CustomStrat » Sun 9 May 2010 00:12 GMT

I've never understood it and I never will...

The LDs get 23% of the vote and 9% of seats in the Commons; 1% up on 2005 but down 5 seats.

Labour gets 29% of the vote and 40% of seats; 6% down on 2005 and down 91 seats.

The Tories get 36.1% of the vote and 47% of seats; 3.8% up on 2005 and up 97 seats.

I know how the system works and how it was perfectly suited to the 19th century, when two parties, the Whigs and the Tories, passed power back and forth. But this antiquated two party system always fails to deliver a Parliament that reflects the way people voted.

Although the Tories got 36.1% of the popular vote 63.9% of voters cast their ballots elsewhere. The idea that the Tories would assume to claim the right to form the next government is illogical, unfair and by no stretch of the imagination what I'd call democracy.

Obviously, it's in the interest of the two main parties to want to avoid electoral reform. They reject the idea of PR because it would dilute their power and because the current system serves them and not the citizenry.

Within the next few days we're going to see what kind of back room deals will be made within the corridors of power. Clegg is talking with the Tories but the Tories would be the last to consider PR. Labour might concede on the issue but unless the coalition includes the 28 from the "other" parties a LibDem/Labour pact may outnumber the Tories but still be eleven seats shy of a full majority and then one has to ask; how many more general elections can we afford or tolerate?

At least one thing is obvious; Gordon Brown has been a dreadful PM and needs to go away...now!
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Postby Dave » Sun 9 May 2010 08:05 GMT

There have been some suggestions that the Lib Dems won't be dragged into a formal coalition but will tolerate a Tory government for the time being. If the Tories won't concede PR, I think that's the most likely outcome - the Lib Dems won't want to be tainted with the worst excesses of Tory policies but will want to be seen to be making a genuine attempt to be constructive in pretty dire economic and difficult political circumstances.

I think most Lib Dem supporters would rather see a progressive coalition. But with Labour's presence in the House of Commons weakened so drastically, it's going to be very difficult to build a durable coalition. Take the Lib Dems and Labour together and you've only got 315; add their respective Northern Irish allies (the Alliance Party and the SDLP) and that's 319; and you could probably add the Green Party MP, so that's 320.

What about the Scottish and Welsh nationalists? I doubt whether they could be brought into a formal coalition, even though Alex Salmond has been pleading for one. Quite apart from anything else, Plaid Cymru and the SNP have been Labour's rivals locally (when Kay was politically active her Labour comrades used to refer derisively to the SNP as the "tartan Tories", even though in most respects the SNP would be classed as a left-wing party). But the political price for a coalition would be financial support for Scotland and Wales, or at the very least measures to exempt them from the public spending cuts that England's going to have to suffer - and that would be too damaging for Labour and the Lib Dems to contemplate, especially when they're so far behind the Tories in England anyway.

Labour are too weak to form a minority government on their own. But a coalition minority government with the Lib Dems - apart from being unprecedented - wouldn't last very long, I suspect. And of course the more parties there are in a coalition, the more likely it is to break up.

So, reluctantly, I conclude that the Tory minority government is the most likely scenario. They might even try to do it without the Lib Dems but with the DUP - but that still leaves them short of a majority, and the other parties won't be inclined to let anything through that looks like full-blooded Tory "hurt the poor, help the rich" policy. So Lib Dem toleration looks like the more likely outcome. (That could go on for some time; the Lib-Lab pact under Callaghan and Steel lasted for 18 months in the late '70s.)

As for the question of how many general elections we can afford/tolerate, I don't think the politicians would dare come up with a dissolution within six months - but I don't think a minority government will manage to survive for much longer.
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