A View From Middle England - Conservative with a slight libertarian touch - For Christian charity and traditional belief - Free Enterprise NOT Covert Corporatism

Saturday, January 03, 2009

Coalition or National Government Mr.Brown?

In the Daily Mail today, Peter Oborne suggests that Gordon Brown might be considering some sort of deal regarding future governance. Perhaps a coalition with the Libdems? Get rid of the Speaker (Oborne doesn't rate him) first, then install Sir Ming Campbell, then cosy up to senior LibDems by offering plum jobs. Does it sound plausible? I don't think so.

It may be that Gordon Brown is pally with Ming, but that doesn't imply all LibDems are pally with Brown. Oborne rightly suggests that the younger brood on the LibDem benches would be appalled at a coalition with New Labour. And I can understand why. Gordon Brown may have certain qualities, but he is also prone to grumpiness and vendetta-like attitudes. His meddling in the traditional parliamentaty processes is deplorable. No wonder the Tories are furious with him.

I feel that Brown may consider that his best bet in remaining Prime Minister is to contemplate a coalition or a national government before the next election. If he thinks he will go down as a big loser, why not blame the credit crunch ("It started in America") and say that a unity government is the answer? Trouble is that the public won't buy it.

We know that New Labour is a busted flush. All spin and no substance. If it is true that Vince Cable is "on good terms" with Brown, that he is after a job, he won't last long in the scheme of LibDem politics. The only possible coalition after the next election (not before) is that of the Conservatives with the LibDems (and that is a long shot!), because both have been in opposition and the public would accept this over keeping a failed government in power.

One thing Peter Oborne says is curious. He writes, "before 1979 it was common for two minority parties to enter into alliances in order to form a government. Indeed, analysis shows that for at least a third of the past century, the country was governed by parties which had failed to win an election in their own right but had created temporary mergers with another party in order to form a ruling coalition." I'm not sure what this means. Certainly there was no coalition after 1945. Ted Heath tried in vain to bring the Liberals into government in 1974, but this was vetoed by the Liberal hierachy. The odd Irish MP has helped in tight votes, but that is not a coalition. And I don't consider wartime national governments are to be considered in the same vein as peacetime coalitions. So that leaves the period when the Liberals were going down and the Labour Party coming up in electoral terms.

The truth is that we live in a democracy that was originally created around two political philosophies. Conservatism and Liberalism. Then these splintered over the years and the result is we now have a multi-party process in a two-party system. Hence New Labour gets to govern on the votes of only 20% of the total electorate. 80% of us either voted for some other party or didn't bother to vote.

Coalitions are only good if they are supported by the system. In the UK system, our adversarial instincts are now centuries old. A coalition will not last long, even if agreement is reached. It is far better to look at changing the system first rather than to plot an outcome based on present formularies.


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