I expected that today I’d be changing my banner back to normal (unless a lovely person wants to design and donate me a new one that stretches across the top of my blog), thanking you for indulging my election blogging and telling you the blog would now be ‘back to normal’. Yet, here we are, two days after a general election and still no-one knows who will be the new government. Since January I thought we’d have a minority Tory gov. In the 24 hours before the vote, I couldn’t decide and thought it would be anything between Cameron short by twenty seats through to a majority of 5/6. I was sort of right but I didn’t see it being this messy or wide open. I didn’t see the chaos – and still possible legal challenges – to the shambles at polling stations, nor did I see the Lib-Dem election disaster (in terms of seats). It may well be that we end up with a minority Tory gov. The favoured option at the moment is a Lib-Con coalition. I don’t buy it.
Yesterday, I watched every speech live and felt Cameron gave Clegg nothing. On the other hand, propping Brown up would not be palatable to the public. This was in my opinion, an election in which Brown was rejected – but not I would suggest, the Labour Party. The Lib Dem vote collapsed as people reverted to choosing between the Tories and Labour. Poor Nick Clegg is now pulling left and right by Cameron/Clegg and his own party (which did make me think of the cartoon above).
People are now speculating on alternatives and I can see a progressive and workable option. I would favour – and think it possible in a way I would have said “never” 48 hours ago – a Lib-Lab-Others coalition. Pull the Greens, SNP, Plaid and Liberals into a coalition with Labour – and a new Labour leader. Constitutionally, that is now feasible – I would have thought David Milliband the obvious choice as coalition leader.
Brown would discharge his constitutional duties by informing the Queen he has a workable government that he can recommend and he would stay on as Labour Party leader -but not have a role in government.
The progressive coalition would promise two referendum’s in October with a general election to follow in November (with the election called as soon as the referenda results are announced). Referenda on more power for a Welsh assembly (in Wales), a two stage referendum in Scotland – more power devolved or independence, and across the whole UK, a referendum on changing the voting system to PR – with a specific model of PR on the table. Caroline Lucas would be given the environment and energy portfolio. SNP and Plaid offered the chance to nominate the Wales/Scotland Secretaries of State.
There are those (well, Tories) who argue that only they have a mandate. Let’s be clear, most people said no to a Tory government. That’s worth repeating – most people said no to a Tory government. The will of most people would be represented in the scenario I outline above.
There are also those (well, Tories) who say that the country can’t accept another unelected leader. Cameron would be unelected! Most people rejected him. Coalitions are no place for pure ideals and the above statements are rooted in ‘pure politics’. Coalitions are about deals and compromise and a new leader – such as Milliband – leading a coalition would have no less democratic authority than David Cameron. I would suggest they will have more authority.
I doubt we’ll get a deal this weekend which means Brown will be left in Downing Street echoing a predecessor (who resigned fearing he was about to die and then regretted it when he didn’t), Harold Macmillan who famously (so the Thatcher anecdote goes) repeatedly asked his son “has the call come?”.
My ‘progressive coalition’ scenario outlined above might just be a wild dream but admit it, it doesn’t sound as bonkers as it once did does it?