A majority to deliver change …… but what change and who will blink first?

May 7, 2010

A strange night; bittersweet and helter-skelter at the same time.

Cameron came first in votes and seats, but with 29 results undeclared has so far FAILED to secure an overall majority for his Tories.

Cameron says he’ll announce plans for a government that’s “strong and stable with broad support that acts in the national interest”. And Nick Clegg says he’ll talk to the Cameron Boy first because they have the most votes and seats.

So we have the ludicrous situation of the one political leader of a major party who has set his face against moving away from first-past-the-post (FPTP) – the central argument for which is that it produces decisive majority results – seeking to run the country from a minority position. And not a single comment on the hypocrisy from press or TV.

The stakes are high – what was presented to voters by the liberal media as a once in a generation chance for them to change our politics has in fact become a once in a political career chance for the overblown Nick Clegg to secure a shift from FPTP to some form of proportional representation.

If he succeeds he will make history, if he fails Clegg will be history.

And who can now resist some form of PR for the future.

In the East, where I happen to live, the Liberals and Labour polled just 88,312 votes less than the Tories 1,258,450. For this performance the two left/ liberal parties won 6 seats between them, the Tories 48 seats.

If Labour wants to succeed in England it can no longer depend on its loyal heartlands, some of which have been progressively weakened by the Liberal-Democrats in any case, whilst allowing vast regions of the country to become deserts. The Tories ongoing difficulties in Scotland evidence the scale of work involved in getting a desert to bloom after a wipe-out.

For Labour to become a national party in England requires PR. If May 1997 showed us anything, under FPTP, even with policies trimmed to keep onside a crucial few thousand voters in a portion of marginal seats, Labour can only become a national English party once every few generations. For the people
who Labour looks to represent and those who look to Labour to represent them, that’s not good enough.

But don’t hold your breath on this.

History shows that the only-ever-whispered Tory slogan down the centuries has been ‘concede to survive’. Cameron, if given an overall Tory majority, fully intended to cut MP numbers and reorganise – some say gerrymander – seats, to buttress future Tory prospects. Don’t put it past the Tories, therefore, to make concessions on PR sufficient to form a government with Lib-Dem support.

And don’t put it past Nick Clegg to bite.


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