Posted by: jackterrett | May 10, 2010

Week Ten: Hung like Parliament

After a few months of raucous weekends and catching up with friends, this week was fairly subdued in comparison.  With only two weeks left in England after my return from Spain last weekend, I felt it was time to wind down and get ready for my departure back to the good old USA.  This involved a weekend at the Grandparents (Mum’s parents) in Mill Hill, London, which included (but was not limited to) a trip to the hospital, dinner at the Gate Pub in Ackley, a great deal of gardening, and watching the Spanish Grand Prix with my Grandpa over a delicious lunch of ‘ready-made’ meals!  That was about as exciting as last week got for me, although it was a welcome rest.

In other news, the country is a-buzz with last week’s inconclusive general election.  I’m not sure how much coverage this is getting Stateside, but this is the only news over here at the moment, and has been since last Thursday.  Simply put, neither of the two major parties got a majority of seats in Parliament – to be in control of Parliament (and hence have your party leader become Prime Minister) you must have over 50% of the seats.  In this uncommon situation, called a Hung Parliament, a coalition government must be formed of various parties and seats until the magic number of 326 seats is reached – the Conservatives have 306, Labour have 258.  This puts Nick Clegg and the Liberal Democrats (the third major party – currently with 57 seats) in a very sweet spot.  Over the last few days, the Conservatives and Labour have been courting the Lib Dems, trying to convince them to form a government with them.  The fate of who becomes next Prime Minister and which political party is in power rests in the hands of the third party leader!  Very loosely, this would be like Ralph Nader deciding whether Al Gore or George Bush became President in the 2000 election!  This gives the Lib Dems tremendous bargaining power and will likely demand Cabinet positions in return for their backing.  One of their priorities is electoral reform and smartly so – they received 23% of the popular vote, but only got 9% of seats in Parliament!  All parties are stressing, however, that a stable government is the ultimate priority!

And to make matters even more interesting, Gordon Brown announced that he is going to step down as Labour leader.  This is likely to give a strong boost to Labour’s chances of securing the Lib Dem backing as Brown is considered by many to be the reason for Labour’s poor showing in the election – a new leader would give them a fresh start.  That said, it seems hardly appropriate to back the political party that received less of the popular vote – Labour has clearly lost their mandate to govern.  It seems to me (and I’ll be biased as I voted Conservative) that the Lib Dems, despite their political differences, should back the party that got greater public support.  Fortunately, I’m not too opinionated on the matter so I’m in it for the spectacle more than anything.  Labour would argue though, that with Lib Dem support, they would have a combined greater popular support than the Conservatives.  And the spread of the vote is also something to take into consideration – the Conservatives only got 1 seat in Scotland, 8 in Wales, and none in Northern Ireland.  By the numbers, a Conservative government should deserve to rule, but there is certainly a concern of ostracizing everyone outside of England.  Whatever happens, it should be an exciting few days…or weeks…or months…  Well, maybe it won’t be that exciting…just long…and tedious…  And there’s always the possibility of another election…  And if the politicians can’t decide and work it out by themselves, guess who does?  The Queen.  Yes, it’s true.  Personally, I want to see that happen.

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Responses

  1. Ew. Yuck!
    Let the queen decide!


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