by Ben Kritikos
Now that Gordon Brown has announced that he will resign as Prime Minister, he has potentially put a bomb under the bums of Tories hoping to form a coalition with the Liberal Democrats.
Like many left-leaning people living in Britain, I’ve been pulling my face off slowly with the anxiety caused at the thought of a Tory government unleashing its Lord Of The Rings-style darkness over this country, plunging it deeper into … well, something resembling the 80s. And I don’t mean musically.
The much maligned first-past-the-post system by which a government is elected in Britain has vomited up a hung parliament. With no party able to constitute a parliamentary majority, we’re faced with the likely possibility of a coalition government.
But the nature of that coalition is as yet uncertain.
At the time that I write, the Liberal Democrats are in negotiations with both Labour and the Conservatives. However, with Brown’s imminent resignation, Nick Clegg and the Lib Dems should be tempted to abandon their potential pact with the devil, and form a progressive coalition.
A Labour-Lib Dem coalition would not form a majority. For this reason, any prospective coalition would include other smaller “progressive” parties such as Plaid Cymru, the Scottish National Party, and Norther Ireland’s SDLP. Caroline Lucas, Britain’s first Green MP (and my personal hero) could also be approached to join and bolster any potential coalition’s voting power.
A working parliamentary majority would need 323 votes. If all the above parties agreed to form a coalition with Labour and the Lib Dems, they would narrowly achieve that majority — albeit with almost no room for breakaway votes.
While such a governing cooperative may not be ideal, it would be no less stable than a Tory-led coalition with the Lib Dems, who have both ruled out backing each other on key policies such as (ha ha!) electoral reform, defense and the European Union. Despite all David Cameron’s talk of concessions crafted to woo the Lib Dems, the two parties harbour fundamentally divergent visions of Britain’s future.
The Lib Dems know this. They also understand that many who voted for them did so with a view to keeping out the Tories. Gordon Brown failed to sufficiently communicate to the electorate why they should vote Labour, and is duly accepting the responsibilty of that failure by resigning. So too must the Lib Dems understand the responsibility that has been placed on them: a coalition with the Conservatives is a betrayal of those who voted Lib Dem to keep them out.
William Hague will argue until the cows come home that a Labour-Lib Dem coaltion would put an unelected prime minister into 10 Downing Street; that because the Tories garnered the most votes the electorate have essentially made their choice; and that only a Conservative-led government would have the moral authority to rule.
On the contrary, the Conservatives came well short of a majority. They garnered 10.7m votes — less than the number of people who didn’t bother their arses to go to the polling station and cast a ballot. That hardly makes David Cameron an elected prime minister, let alone give him any moral authority.
Even less so do the Tories’ winnings constitute a prefence of the electorate: most Britons voted for progressive parties. So a progressive coalition would best represent the preference of the electorate.
Will the Lib Dems form a coalition of progressive parties, including a Labour party without Gordon Brown as leader? Or will the Lib Dems dash the hopes of many of those who voted for them, who truly believed Nick Clegg that it was time we were done with two-horse politics?
One thing is certain: this election has forced both Labour and the Conservatives into a state of desperation. It’s quite humourous to watch them both brought down a peg or two, wheedling the Lib Dems like desperate drug addicts — their addictions to power goading them to make ever more concessi0ns, ever more entreaties.
Let’s see what happens.