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What happens if David Cameron loses?
March 26, 2010 2:16 PM   Subscribe

Most people assumed the Tories would walk the coming election. But with their poll lead evaporating, what would a Conservative defeat mean for Britain – and David Cameron? What happens if David Cameron loses? posted by Len (70 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite

 
Is it OK if some of us in the United States react by doing a big long happy dance?
posted by bearwife at 2:18 PM on March 26, 2010 [3 favorites]


What happens if David Cameron loses?

You'd think that prospect would be cheering, and yet somehow it isn't. UK politics is just gloom all around these days.
posted by Artw at 2:19 PM on March 26, 2010 [3 favorites]


Cameron is a prat, but ever since Blair, I've been wary of Labour too. It's the same depressing feeling one has as about the U.S. - the entire discourse has shifted right. And this is not just about Britain, sadly. Look at the rest of Europe - not encouraging. I always expected a broad secular movement to the left for the entire world, with occasional retractions. But this "retraction" has lasted for well over 10 years now, and is starting to feel as if the move to the left has stalled pretty badly. I suppose better Brown than Cameron, but really, it feels like there's more interest in the choices of what's on tap at the local pub.
posted by VikingSword at 2:27 PM on March 26, 2010 [3 favorites]


One key figure looks even worse for the Tories than the prof quoted at the end of the first link reckons: "New ComRes/BBCDailyPolitics post-Budget poll- 33% (+7) trust Brown/Darling on econ; 27% (-6) trust Cameron\Osborne." (Saw that quoted elsewhere - off someone's Twitter it appears Googling it). Also, don't know if you've seen this footage of Cameron making a complete bollocks of an interview with Gay Times about some shameful non-voting by his party's MEPs. Raising questions about his abilities under fire, and it was them that pushed for telly debates. Might be an own goal.
I think the bottom line is that the prospect of an actual Tory government is still too much for many to stomach even given the deep disappointments of the current regime. I think I said here before my bet is a hung parliament, Cameron toppled from the right and David Davis leading a more hardline monetarist party in a new election.
posted by Abiezer at 2:29 PM on March 26, 2010


I'm voting UK Independence Party this year anyway.
posted by jsavimbi at 2:32 PM on March 26, 2010


Maybe we have to do it all again in six months' time. Maybe the parties move apart sufficiently to be distinguishable. Maybe a bold new leader emerges from the Leftist quarter of the Labour party and sorts it all out. A fella can dream.
posted by tigrefacile at 2:32 PM on March 26, 2010






I'm voting UK Independence Party this year anyway.


Seriously?
posted by Acey at 2:41 PM on March 26, 2010 [7 favorites]


jsavimbi - dude, if you're going to throw that out there why not go whole hog and say BNP?
posted by Artw at 2:41 PM on March 26, 2010 [2 favorites]


"Libertarian, non-racist party seeking Britain's withdrawal from the European Union."

Suddenly everyone not fully committed to leftist ideals is a neo-nazi? WTF?
posted by jsavimbi at 2:43 PM on March 26, 2010


Cable for Chancellor and from the Torygraph.
posted by adamvasco at 2:47 PM on March 26, 2010


Artw: “You'd think that prospect would be cheering, and yet somehow it isn't. UK politics is just gloom all around these days.”

'These days'?
posted by koeselitz at 2:52 PM on March 26, 2010 [2 favorites]


They're mainly a holding pen for Tory Eurosceptics though jsavimbi; I know your namesake was all about the shameless opportunism but Farage and company (and almost all of their vote) will be scuttling back to the Conservatives once Cameron's failed attempt at cod Blairism crumbles and the Tories revert to type. And of course they only declare their non-racism so loudly because that's actually the core of their politics but they're too gutless to say so.
posted by Abiezer at 2:52 PM on March 26, 2010 [2 favorites]


'These days'?

So true. I, for one, have stopped watching Prime Minister's Questions since Tony stepped aside. Gordon is simply not up to the part. It's as if they'd given the Tonight Show to Ed upon Johnny's retirement. (Hmm, they didn't do much better).

Anyways, I think those of us who wonk out on foreign politics would be greatly enthused and entertained if Mr. Farage were running the government.

That's why I'm supporting UKIP this time around: entertainment value.
posted by jsavimbi at 2:56 PM on March 26, 2010


I think Gordon Brown gets a bad rap. Has done the day he took over, because the contrast with Tony Blair's style media-savvy style is enormous. He's not slick like Blair was but he's got a good brain and some decent ideas. Can you imagine Cameron having a vision (of any kind) like this? With Cameron it would obviously just be another round of crony capitalism pasted over with a thin veneer of constant bullshit.
posted by snoktruix at 2:59 PM on March 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


Another interesting comment I've seen is that while all the poll trackers support the idea that a hung parliament is most likely it's still not reflected in the betting market. I know that's as much swayed by where the money's going but it doesn't seem to have moved at all for months, though must admit not something I follow myself.
posted by Abiezer at 3:04 PM on March 26, 2010


What happens if David Cameron loses?

Does this question make sense in a parliamentary system where people vote for a party and not a candidate? There is something to be said for a system of government where the focus is not on a particular person, but on the party platform. Making it a matter of Cameron versus Brown - which it may well be as a practical matter - seems to overemphasize the role of prime minister and demeans the whole system of parliamentarian government.

(IIRC the title "prime minister" was originally introduced into the lexicon as a pejorative to describe the self-important leadership of Robert Walpole.)
posted by three blind mice at 3:08 PM on March 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


jsavimbi Well, I could try to contemplate the prospect of that self-important boozehound Farage in No. 10 with some merriment...weren't it for the fact that Britain has nukes.
posted by Skeptic at 3:13 PM on March 26, 2010


Abiezer: I think the bottom line is that the prospect of an actual Tory government is still too much for many to stomach even given the deep disappointments of the current regime. I think I said here before my bet is a hung parliament, Cameron toppled from the right and David Davis leading a more hardline monetarist party in a new election.

I think you're probably right on this – it's looking like the Tories aren't going to get a full majority, though whether that results in a Labour/LibDem coalition or a Tory/LibDem one is going to be interesting. I'm thinking the former, mostly because a large rump of the Tories are such die-hard Eurosceptics that there's no way they'd collaborate with the likes of Nick Clegg and Vince Cable. And yes, it's going to be fun watching the Tories tear themselves to pieces whilst trying to establish a new identity.

The two competing wings of the Tory party – the one nation types, on the one hand, and the free-marketeer Eurosceptics on the other – can't hold together forever, and I wonder if they might suffer the same kind of schism that is currently dividing the American Republicans, where a kind of teabagger fringe break off, and end up voting for the BNP and UKIP. And I think it's interesting that the current Tory leadership has allied itself, in Europe, with the furthest right of the voting blocs.

On which subject: Nigel Farage, former head of UKIP who has now decided to fight John Bercow for his seat in Parliament, is in bed with the kind of people who sing Nazi marching songs in the pub. Nice guy.
posted by Len at 3:18 PM on March 26, 2010 [2 favorites]


While I'd be cheering a Torrie defeat as loudly as would be seemly for a foreigner, in would be troubling. I don't want to see a conservative party destroyed!

I know it is popular and common to dismiss Labor as no long left or liberal, but then the American Democrats haven't really been since -- when, the 30s? if ever (but they have contained some liberals and have had some liberal programs but into action.).

In the States we see what happens when there is no real conservative party left, when the word is used for the reactionary left overs of an extremist leadership after an accidental success every day, and it isn't pretty.

There are some truly conservative ideas with which I have sympathy (free trade, though not globalization by mega-corps.), even if not agreement, and I regret the fact such discussions are no longer in the vernacular. In other words we, in the USA, are seeing what happens when conservatism is lost as a voice. If it were to be lost in the UK as well, it would not be a good thing. It would be a very, very bad thing!
posted by Some1 at 3:19 PM on March 26, 2010


I'm voting UK Independence Party this year anyway.

Is that the UK version of voting for Nader? Because I have to tell you, that went badly for us.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 3:25 PM on March 26, 2010 [5 favorites]


The problem is that the many and various leadership deficiencies of British politics are all right-wing deficiencies, ie caused by Labour's acceptance of rightist ideals, and it is a mortal certainty that the Tories would be worse than Labour on all of them. Hostility to immigration, racial and cultural diversity. Prison-state panopticon. Economic disengagement with the EU. Falling educational standards. Falling social security standards. Privatization. Corporatization. And so on. Labour is failing to build the necessary ladders to rescue Britain from its moral and economic sinkhole; the Tories would dig it deeper.
posted by aeschenkarnos at 3:26 PM on March 26, 2010 [3 favorites]


weren't it for the fact that Britain has nukes

That didn't stop us from installing an insane, self-important, [alleged] former boozehound in the White House. Twice. Nor did it stop 49.9% of us from considering to place a washed-up, former beauty pageant runner-up a heartbeat or hizzyfit away from the button either.

Oh I've been wrong before, but rest assured, the chance of the UK going it alone on a nuclear strike outside of the NATO framework is slim to none.
posted by jsavimbi at 3:27 PM on March 26, 2010


Is that the UK version of voting for Nader?

It's the UK Tea Party, if the Tea PArty were an actual party and not some shouty Republicans funded by FOX News driving themselves into a tizzy.
posted by Artw at 3:28 PM on March 26, 2010 [2 favorites]


I'm in favor of a Tory victory in the upcoming election, because I believe that's the best way to give the push for Scottish Independence a serious boost. As a matter of fact, I'd like to see a HUGE Tory victory, expressly for this reason:

The Tories have an abysmal record when it comes to Scotland, and with the SNP in Holyrood, a big Tory victory will put serious wind in their sails for an independence referendum.
posted by chimaera at 3:28 PM on March 26, 2010 [4 favorites]


UKIP hurts the Tories by pulling in votes from the more rabid end of the party's support
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 3:41 PM on March 26, 2010


Oh and I like how Cameron's new nickname is apparently 'Draco Malfoy'
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 3:44 PM on March 26, 2010


If (and when) the Cameron oil slick oozes into oblivion there's one simple word: "Rejoice!!!". Copyright M. Thatcher.

I'm a card-carrying member of the Labour Party and very proud of it. Gordon Brown may not be media friendly, but if politics comprises a bullshit & beauty contest we're all in deep shit. The sooner the party returns to its true socialist roots the better. Some of us are keeping that red flag flying high. Not that I'm being provocative or anything, honest....
posted by MajorDundee at 3:45 PM on March 26, 2010 [4 favorites]


That didn't stop us from installing an insane, self-important, [alleged] former boozehound in the White House.

And boy, didn't that turn out well...
posted by Skeptic at 3:47 PM on March 26, 2010


Well we had our own insane, self-important, [alleged] former boozehound racist over here... but he didn't get very far. I think Dubya might have had a better time as tv presenter.
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 4:01 PM on March 26, 2010


Nor did it stop 49.9% of us from considering to place a washed-up, former beauty pageant runner-up a heartbeat or hizzyfit away from the button either.

More like 45.7%, actually, which is a 7% difference, aka, a big one.

When you make up bullshit numbers, everyone loses.
posted by absalom at 4:10 PM on March 26, 2010 [3 favorites]


Yeah, if Cameron wins, the politics of Scottish independence will be seriously interesting. I suspect the answer to the West Lothian question is forthcoming. It will be more interesting when we find out what direction taxes are going overall.

Personally, despite being left wing for life, I don't think the government has all that many significant choices to make in the UK. Path of least resistance between the US and Europe. Anyhow, I guess I get to see which wanker New Labour have parachuted into my constituency, and decide whether I can stomach voting for them.
posted by Wrinkled Stumpskin at 4:12 PM on March 26, 2010


I'm in favor of a Tory victory in the upcoming election, because I believe that's the best way to give the push for Scottish Independence a serious boost. As a matter of fact, I'd like to see a HUGE Tory victory, expressly for this reason:

The irony is this: despite being ideologically opposed to any weakening of the UK, it is actually in the Tories favour for Scotland (& potentially Wales) to no longer vote for Westminster MPs. English politics is much more Conservative than Scottish or Welsh politics and Scottish independence would mean the end of the Labour party as a serious political force in England.
posted by atrazine at 4:44 PM on March 26, 2010


I wish that a "hung parliament" was really what it sounds like.
posted by Saxon Kane at 4:49 PM on March 26, 2010 [2 favorites]


When you make up bullshit numbers, everyone loses.

When you figure out that I was having fun with the whole thing and was making up a number and not quoting exact voting results nor actually caring about the electoral results in the UK, and that this is merely a discussion board on the world wide internets, you'll be the only one feeling a loss.
posted by jsavimbi at 4:57 PM on March 26, 2010


We have been sold down the river by him. He can't beat Brown. We should get [Oliver] Letwin in now.

Dear god, please let that happen.

There's still plenty of time for Labour to fuck it up yet. And Gordon Brown is still probably going to be his charmless self in the tv debates.

I was going to vote Lib Dem in hope for a hung parliament - to keep as much power away from the Tories as possible, encourage the idea of a viable third party, and for Labour to have a generational clean-out (which they badly need). But if it stays that close, I may have to vote for Labour again - assuming Nick Clegg actually means what he says and goes with the party with more support.

Even the US is pulling back from the right somewhat. Please, UK, don't swing right now. I'd like to feel some hope for the world for the next few years.
posted by catchingsignals at 4:58 PM on March 26, 2010


I think Gordon Brown gets a bad rap.

Its heartbreaking. If only he hadn't been persuaded by the nuaghty boys that we needed to invade Iraq and kill hundreds of thousands of people. If only he hadn't decided to increase income tax for the poorest people in society. If only he hadn't spent the 10 years prior to becoming Prime Minister relaxing regulation of financial markets so that the City could make massive profits then get away with pushing our economy to the brink of destruction, receive massive subsidies and be back in the profit business within a year while we pay the price. Life can be so cruel.

What will the UK be like if Cameron doesn't get elected. Shit. The same as if Cameron does get elected. Its cunts all the way down.
posted by biffa at 5:02 PM on March 26, 2010 [7 favorites]


Everything I hear about Nick Clegg confirms my long-standing dislike of the Liberals. I understand he was a member of the very right-wing Young Conservatives and has been waxing lyrical about Thatcher's spending cuts. I realise that latter's partly to do with being in more contests for seats with Tories than labour, but then that doesn't make sense - people who want those policies will vote Tory surely. Be better off sticking to the civil liberties and more actually liberal policies. But I'm left with the same feeling that they're nothing but a rag-bag of oddballs with very little approaching a coherent vision about anything.
posted by Abiezer at 5:06 PM on March 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'm a card-carrying member of the Labour Party and very proud of it.
Seriously? After all they've spent so long doing their utmost to crush our civil liberties? They fought hard to extend the time someone can be imprisoned without charge -- and without being told what they're accused of -- then fought to extend it to three months, with party insiders admitting that they'd like to make it indefinite. This despite various police heads saying that they'd never asked for these powers.

They've made it a crime not to hand over the encryption keys to any files on your computer they want to look at. They've introduced legislation requiring ISPs to track every site visited and email sent (addresses, not content) by every citizen, all the time, not just people who're under investigation. They've given police powers to stop and search people without any grounds for suspicion and to break up large groups of people "at times of heightened terror alert"... which, of course, has covered all of London, non-stop, for several years now. People taking photos of public spaces are routinely harrassed by police citing imaginary terror laws, and god help you if you take a photo of a police officer. Peaceful protest has effectively been criminalised and is now dealt with by anti-terror squads, who routinely perform illegal searches of protesters and who routinely (and illegally) hide their collar numbers. It's flat-out illegal to peacefully protest anywhere near parliament, where the politicians might actually see you. Also under the terror laws is the beauty "possessing information likely to be useful to a terrorist"; articles cited in charges against suspects have included such seditious documents as the Qu'ran and the Anarchist's Cookbook (which most teenage boys will have downloaded at some point. Poster campaigns have encouraged us all to spy on our neighbours to watch out for suspicious behaviour, and anti-terror powers given to local councils have been used to spy on the public (the most widely-reported case being to check whether a parent really lived in a school's catchment area) with no more consequences than a slapped risk. And never mind the Iraq war, some extremely dodgey dealings with BAE systems and a refusal to investigate massive problems in various Arab states for fear of damaging our arms sales business.

I can understand that you might hold true to Labour's stated ideals, and to be proud of that. But being proud to be a member of the current Labour party, after all the deliberate, concerted attacks on our civil liberties over the past few years? I can't begin to comprehend that.
posted by metaBugs at 5:53 PM on March 26, 2010 [21 favorites]


That's why I'm supporting UKIP this time around: entertainment value.

Oh great, the lol boriz vote is alive and well.
posted by bonaldi at 5:55 PM on March 26, 2010 [8 favorites]


Just for completeness, Clegg has never been accused of having anything to do with the Young Conservatives, but has denied being a member of the Cambridge University Conservative Association after an editor at conservativehome.org claimed to have a membership roll with his name on from the early 1980s.

Unbiased truthiness aside, I'd post a link to the conservativehome.org thread from two years ago, but as most of the comments are about how ugly and sexually unavailable left-leaning women are I'd rather not give the motherfuckers the AdSense dollars.
posted by cromagnon at 6:12 PM on March 26, 2010


Ah, had that round me neck. Dimly remembered Internet rumour. I'll go and sit on the naughty step.
posted by Abiezer at 6:33 PM on March 26, 2010


The UKIP aren't quite fascists in the colloquial sense, though they are certainly on the reactionary right, and differ from the BNP mostly in that they're not overtly racialist. Their policies tend to be Angry White Man talking points/dog-whistles (too much immigration, political correctness gone mad, health and safety gone mad), with other policies that betray a regressive agenda. (For example, their transport policy is all about slashing petrol taxes and diverting money from public transport (helps minorities and single mothers and such, you see) to roads.)

And then there's Godfrey Bloom, the UKIP MEP who said that "No self-respecting small businessman with a brain in the right place would ever employ a lady of child-bearing age", and added "I am here to represent Yorkshire women who always have dinner on the table when you get home. I am going to promote men's rights". Not to say that that's official UKIP platform, but the party does tend to appeal to people who think like that.
posted by acb at 6:50 PM on March 26, 2010 [2 favorites]


Having said that, most Fascists these days aren't fascists in the colloquial sense. My mum and stepdad had a place in Italy a few years ago, and their neighbours were an elderly couple who were actual Fascists. They appeared more like the Italian equivalent of the Daily Mail's core demographic than actual jackbooted thugs.
posted by acb at 6:52 PM on March 26, 2010


The problem is that the many and various leadership deficiencies of British politics are all right-wing deficiencies, ie caused by Labour's acceptance of rightist ideals, and it is a mortal certainty that the Tories would be worse than Labour on all of them. Hostility to immigration, racial and cultural diversity. Prison-state panopticon. Economic disengagement with the EU. Falling educational standards. Falling social security standards. Privatization. Corporatization. And so on. Labour is failing to build the necessary ladders to rescue Britain from its moral and economic sinkhole; the Tories would dig it deeper.

That's more or less my take on the two main parties. All the failings of Labour that I care to think of, I know full well the Conservatives would have done them too, and moreso. I'm voting Liberal Democrat, as I always do, though I dislike Nick Clegg something chronic and would have preferred Chris Huhne. My hope really is that the Lib Dems get enough seats to push for voting reform, as AV+ would help, and STV would be a game changer.

If Cameron loses, I'll enjoy his own party toppling him and moving to an extremist position. The Conservative party is nowhere near as crazy and fucked up as it could be - it will be wonderful to watch it fulfill its potential. I'm really hoping that next election they'll run on a platform of bringing back hanging for pedos, making every drug class A, and withdrawal from the EU. I know they have it in them!
posted by Sova at 7:23 PM on March 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


Its cunts all the way down.

I appreciate where biffa is coming from, but if Bush Jr taught us anything it's that politicians may all be cunts, but some are much, much bigger cunts than others.
posted by criticalbill at 7:25 PM on March 26, 2010 [3 favorites]


Anyways, I think those of us who wonk out on foreign politics would be greatly enthused and entertained if Mr. Farage were running the government.

That is pretty funny.
posted by delmoi at 7:27 PM on March 26, 2010


Presumably relative to Bush, Barack Obama is a very small cunt. Maybe not even a cunt at all, but I don't want to tread in your cynical little world view.
posted by snoktruix at 7:31 PM on March 26, 2010


Based on my suspicion that UK politics are a twisted mirror image of Canadian politics with a few years delay, I think Cameron is going to win 2 minority terms.
posted by Grimgrin at 7:31 PM on March 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


Presumably relative to Bush, Barack Obama is a very small cunt. Maybe not even a cunt at all, but I don't want to tread in your cynical little world view.

Other than pushing aggressively for the ACTA Treaty.
posted by acb at 7:32 PM on March 26, 2010


What about voting for the Liberal party? I've heard that you could end up with a Liberal/Labour coalition government, depending on the outcome of the election. The british system doesn't seem to have the same problems with 3rd party voting that the U.S. does.
posted by delmoi at 8:34 PM on March 26, 2010


What about voting for the Liberal party?

The problem is that Britain's electoral system is strictly first-past-the-post, meaning that a vote for anything other than the two leading parties is a wasted vote. Some electorates have strong LibDem candidates (or even independent candidates), but in general, in most electorates it's a straight Labour/Tory race.

Having said that, I believe the Greens are hoping to bag Brighton.
posted by acb at 8:59 PM on March 26, 2010


What about voting for the Liberal party? I've heard that you could end up with a Liberal/Labour coalition government, depending on the outcome of the election. The british system doesn't seem to have the same problems with 3rd party voting that the U.S. does.

Well, technically all FPTP systems have some problem with 3rd party vote - it's the law! But seriously, the Liberal Party polled badly for a long long time, and it's only recently that they've managed to get a reasonable number of seats. The last time the Liberal Democrats (or their predecessors) won about as many seats as they do now was 1929. The last time a hung parliament occurred in 1974, the Liberal Party was so small that whoever they allied with still didn't have an outright majority (Labour and Liberal would have been exactly half, I think). What makes this election interesting is that the Liberal Democrats will probably have enough seats to properly support a government and form a workable majority if a hung parliament happens.

It's once-in-a-lifetime stuff though, as large third parties under FPTP systems are typically transitory (unless geographically restricted), and the current situation will be resolved by one of the parties shrinking and the field being dominated by the other two. Whether that will be Labour and Conservative again I don't know, as it could well be a transition to a stable two party politics with Liberal Democrats as one of those parties. Of course, if voting reform is finally instituted, the whole setup will change.
posted by Sova at 9:11 PM on March 26, 2010


I don't think UKIP are going to be a factor in the general election, they're a protest vote in the European elections. Nigel is a very good communicator and is the only real politician in the party. That's the core problem. Basically the nutter ratio is pretty high. I last saw Bloom waving around in a pub doorway having enjoyed several jars. I last saw him in the Parliament in a hearing where he was also feeling rather refreshed and so embarrassing that UKIP didn't put the video clip on their site.

As MEPs, they do little work, have zero impact and milk the system as much as they can. Their attitude is that we don't like the EU wasting money, or MEPs sticking their snouts in the trough, unless it's for their own benefit. Remember, even though they are a small party, they have had 2 MEPS actually jailed for fraud.

What is a little worrying is that they have become a right-wing libertarian party, also being global warming deniers and want harsher restrictions on traditional islamic dress than even the BNP.
posted by quarsan at 9:43 PM on March 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


I live in Brighton Pavilion, one of the three constituencies in Brighton, and the one where the Greens have a serious chance of winning.

We're really seeing the disadvantages of First Past the Post here. In terms of local council seats within Pavilion constituency, the Greens have most, the Tories second and Labour third, and at the most recent citywide vote - the European Parliament elections - the Greens romped home with a huge voteshare.

So, Green party nailed on for its first MP, right? Wrong. People often vote their conscience in local and European elections, only to revert to one of the "big" parties at the general election. There will certainly be movement of voters on the left from Green to Labour. The question is, will it be enough to allow the Tories to come through the middle and win the seat?

The Greens and Labour are both presenting themselves as the most likely party to beat the Tories. There have been two polls in recent weeks, one showing Greens first, Tories second, and the other showing Labour first, Tories second.

So fundamentally, if you are a non-party voter whose main desire is a not-Tory MP, on polling day you're going to have to take a punt on what your fellow voters are thinking, and hope that the left vote isn't so badly split that a city well-known for being radical and alternative gets a Tory MP. That's not what voting should be about, really.

(The Greens are also putting up a serious fight in Norwich South and Lewisham Deptford, but I think their only other real chance for a seat is Norwich South).
posted by athenian at 1:37 AM on March 27, 2010 [5 favorites]


Yeah, FPTP voting seriously hurts the Lib Dems. According to Wikipedia, in the 2005 election they took 22.1% of the vote, but only 9.6% of the seats in the House of Commons. That's not to say that voting for them is a waste - constituencies in the UK are small enough that they can be competitive in quite a few of them, and I'm proud of the fact that the only candidate I've ever voted for is now an MP, and a Lib Dem.

Until we get voting reform, though, I'm wondering whether the best option would be a minority Conservative government. That way, Labour can't push through any more of their bizarre anti-civil liberties policies, while the Tories can put forward some of their more moderate policies without trying to rebalance the tax system in favour of the rich again. It would also mean that the parties had to work for their votes in the Commons, which would at least make politics more interesting...
posted by ZsigE at 5:01 AM on March 27, 2010 [2 favorites]


But seriously, the Liberal Party polled badly for a long long time, and it's only recently that they've managed to get a reasonable number of seats.

In 2005 they got 6 million votes, compared to 8.8 million for the Tories and 9.5 million for Labour (and I think it works out that 17 million people didn't vote). So in 2005, 22% of the popular vote and 62 seats in parliament.

In 1983 the Liberal/SDP Alliance got 7.8 million votes, 25% of the total, but only 23 seats. In 1987 they got 7.3 million votes, again 25%, but only 22 seats. They did suffer a bit in the nineties, but it's arguable that was a backlash from a quarter of the country getting so little representation in return for their votes in the eighties, but my point is the Liberal party (whatever it's been called) has polled as well in the past as it has now. If we want a fresh approach to government in the UK, what needs to change is the electoral system.
posted by robertc at 5:29 AM on March 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


What is a little worrying is that they have become a right-wing libertarian party, also being global warming deniers and want harsher restrictions on traditional islamic dress than even the BNP.

They seem to be doin' it wrong.
posted by delmoi at 6:32 AM on March 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


If we have a Labour/LibDem coalition, the LibDems demands are said to include reform of the electoral system bringing in proportional representation or single transferrable vote electorates, which would end the duopoly. They're more likely to get that with a Labour party than with the Tories, who have ruled it out already.
posted by acb at 6:46 AM on March 27, 2010


The polls have been predicting a hung parliament for ages. Currently UK Polling Report's Uniform Swing Projection has it almost perfectly balanced: Con 286 seats, Labour 285, Lim Dem 48, Other 32.

I think at this point it's going to be pretty tricky for any party to turn that into a majority. Maybe if someone melts down in the debates, or if there's a big new scandal, or run on the markets. But other than that, the faces are known, the policies are known, the broad state of the economy is known; and the voters seem to be pretty evenly balanced.

Cameron really needs to start thinking of some nice big juicy carrots to offer the Lib Dems if he wants to be PM. A referendum on proportional representation might be a possibility, if he's willing to gamble on the referendum failing.
posted by TheophileEscargot at 7:37 AM on March 27, 2010


I really won't envy Cameron, if he finds himself having to negotiate a coalition with the LibDems. He's (just about) managed to pacify the troglodite wing of his party by a combination of Blairite cynicism ("what do you prefer, to speak your minds from the opposition, or to shut up, and get your policies done from government?") and giving them more or less free rein on Europe. They've already had to swallow hard after Cameron's U-turn on the Lisbon treaty referendum, but if they find themselves with Vince Cable as Chancellor and the most Europhile and socially liberal party in the UK holding them by the unmentionables, there'll be drama.

Cameron would also have extremely bad cards to play in a negotiation. At most, he could try to link the issues of Europe and electoral reform. I'm sure that the LibDems would agree even to immediate withdrawal from the EU and a pre-emptive bombing of Brussels in exchange of PR. I'm equally certain that even the most Europhobic Tory would rather have Herman van Rompuy as Lord Protector, than hand over their nuts on a platter to the LibDems by agreeing to even a weakened form of PR.

But calling for a referendum (never mind twin EU/electoral reform referenda)? Highly unlikely: firstly, it would be a highly unauspicious start to any government to have fellow ministers at each others' throats in a referendum campaign. Secondly, these are two issues that, although highly emotional for a handful of politicians and a couple of fellow obsessives, leave the rest of the country rather cold. A Tory/LibDem government that became quagmired on these two issues, in the middle of a serious economic crisis, would be trounced by Labour in the next election, which would, more likely than not, come rather quickly...
posted by Skeptic at 10:57 AM on March 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


If Labour wins again, I'm moving away as soon as I graduate.
posted by jpcooper at 11:13 AM on March 27, 2010


An interesting/horrifying side-show of the main event is that the BNP could be taking control of Dagenham council.

I'm not sure which is the biggest indictment of the Labour government, the rise of the BNP or the fact that social mobility is now worse than it was under the Tories.
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 11:36 AM on March 27, 2010


I'm not sure which is the biggest indictment of the Labour government, the rise of the BNP [...]

Well, here's the thing. I deplore the rise of the BNP as well, but I'm not sure there's much more that Labour could have done about it, given the tabloid press attitude to BNP policies (they are objectively pro-BNP in policy terms, with the honourable exception of the Mirror, as this compendium of front pages demonstrates).

If I'm honest, Labour have generally been too anti-immigration for my personal taste (as the son of an asylum-seeker), but the Tories would have been worse. Unless you think that Labour should have been more positive about immigration and then potential BNP voters would change their minds. Which is optimistic, to say the least.

One of the few things that makes me look forward to a Conservative government is that at least the constant media hysteria on immigration and Europe might slow down a bit. Obviously you'd still have the blog nutcases and a few swivel-eyed MPs, but the Tory-supporting press are slavish enough to run lots of stories about how that brilliant Prime Minister Cameron is solving all our immigration and EU problems now.
posted by athenian at 12:53 PM on March 27, 2010


If Labour wins again, I'm moving away as soon as I graduate.

Next time you work out how much debt you're in, consider which party got rid of grants and introduced student loans.
posted by biffa at 1:19 PM on March 27, 2010 [4 favorites]


Well, here's the thing. I deplore the rise of the BNP as well, but I'm not sure there's much more that Labour could have done about it

Not having thrown the working class to the wolves in the name of encouraging the aspirational classes could have helped. If Labour left a more equal society (by not slashing income taxes or services), perhaps there'd be fewer white working-class people feeling like they've been left behind and looking for someone to blame, and the BNP would have a harder time selling their conspiracy theories.
posted by acb at 4:37 PM on March 27, 2010 [2 favorites]


I deplore the rise of the BNP as well, but I'm not sure there's much more that Labour could have done about it

The Labour party actively encourages the vilification of immigrants and panders to the tabloid scapegoat du jour fervour as well as suppressing government funded studies that show the positive effects of immigration on UK society and the economy. They have massively contributed to the current atmosphere where asylum seekers are akin to paedophiles as interchangeable boogy men for the Daily Hate. They have promoted ignorant racist minority opinions to the status of 'legitimate concerns'. They have enacted policy that has resulted in appalling breaches of human rights. Some of the Tory party policy on immigration is actually more progressive than the Labour party, that is how bad the situation is.

At best it is a sociopathic attempt to split the right vote by throwing some of the most vulnerable people in society to the wolves. Government by tabloid, one of the legacies of the Blair years, is undemocratic and idiotic.
posted by asok at 3:03 AM on March 29, 2010




Paul Mason's been a beacon of proper journalism for years now. He did some excellent reporting from China on a short visit that put some of the long-term correspondent's froth to shame. Have been meaning to get a copy of this book he did a couple of years back.
posted by Abiezer at 7:18 AM on March 29, 2010


athenian: One of the few things that makes me look forward to a Conservative government is that at least the constant media hysteria on immigration and Europe might slow down a bit.

You'd like to think so but I wouldn't count on it. Historically speaking, the combination of a Tory government and a traditionally right wing press doesn't seem to calm the latter down; it only eggs them on to demand more, the thinking being "we elected you; now you must do what we say". And they get what they want – think of the toxic combination of Thatcher and The Sun back in the 80s, and the extreme ugliness of the miners' strike and Wapping.

And fearfulsymmetry – I saw Mason's report you linked on Newsnight last night, it was good stuff, if pretty bleak.
posted by Len at 12:45 PM on March 30, 2010


And fearfulsymmetry – I saw Mason's report you linked on Newsnight last night, it was good stuff, if pretty bleak.

You reminded me he's on again tonight (I think) with part 2, which - with some possible solutions - might be a bit cheerier.
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 1:07 PM on March 30, 2010


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