Monday, April 19, 2010

Hung Parliaments, Coalitions and wasted votes

The tactics of the various parties (especially Labour and Conservative) over the next few days will be interesting. Do Labour go easy on the Lib Dems to ensure the Tories don't recapture some of those Tor/LD marginals? Or do they go in hard, hoping to avoid LD gains in Northern cities? And do the Conservatives continue to play for the centre, or do they define themselves against the LD surge and risk been seen as lurching to the right? The traditional law & order and anti-Europe rhetoric has been very quiet of late. Whatever they choose, the Lib Dem party machine must be bracing itself for the onslaught which must come following their unprecedented surge in the polls.

Meanwhile, the big question everyone is asking the LDs is whether they would form a coalition and with whom. Of course, it's the wrong question, or should I say the wrong party. On the assumption (which may yet be proved wrong) that the Lib Dems come a very solid 3rd in terms of seats, the initiative for coalition building won't be theirs. The biggest grouping in Parliament would be asked to try and form a viable government - either as a minority administration or in coalition. If they couldn't, I think it's correct that the next biggest grouping would have a chance. So the 'hung parliament' question is probably best aimed at Labour or the Conservatives - who would they go and see? It's always possible that if the maths is really tight, then a deal could be done with another small party instead. Mr Cameron might go knocking on the DUP's door...

And then there's all this talk about wasted votes. Let's be honest, the only wasted vote is a vote that isn't used. When we have a chance to vote, we ought to use it. And why should we be patronising to people and suggest that they shouldn't vote with their convictions, even if it would appear that registering those convictions at the ballot box won't make any difference to the result in their constituency?

What's usually intended is that voting for the dead cert 3rd place or lower candidate is a waste of time, and the 2 largest parties usually say this with an eye on votes migrating to the Lib Dems. Hang on a minute, by that logic in South West England a Labour vote is a wasted vote (LD-Tory contests), and in some parts of northern England a Tory vote is a wasted vote (LD-Labour contests), and in parts of Scotland and Wales... And if everyone always followed that advice, why do any smaller parties, and even independents, ever gain seats on mainland Britain?

It's all to play for next Thursday

1 comment:

Mr Chris said...

Whats for sure is that the debates are making things interesting.
Check out the Paxman interview with Nick Clegg: