A Quick Explanation For Americans And Other Confused Persons

Batman posts have to hold off a few days I’m afraid…

The one-line summary for Americans is that we’re reliving Bush vs Gore, and Ralph Nader has been asked to choose.

In the election this week, no party got an overall majority – this is roughly the same as not being filibuster-proof in the US system.

There are three major parties in the UK – the Conservatives, the Labour party and the Liberal Democrats. They came first, second and third, respectively, in the election, but none did well enough to form a government. The Conservatives and Labour hate each other even though there’s not really very much difference between them, so definitely won’t work together.

The Conservatives could form a government with Liberal Democrat support, and have a majority. The Labour party could form a government if it got the support of the Liberal Democrats *and* the Nationalist parties (there are parties that want Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland to become separate countries. They all hate the Tories and have effectively agreed to this even without being asked) *and* the single Green MP.

The Liberal Democrats are probably closer politically to Labour than the Conservatives, but not by very much (we’re more different from either of them than they are from each other). Most Lib Dem members and voters *HATE* the Conservatives, but just dislike Labour, but some feel the other way round.

However, the Conservatives did far better than Labour in the election, and it may well be politically impossible to support Labour, because it’s clear that nobody likes the Labour government,and people *LOATHE* Gordon Brown.

However, most of *OUR* supporters probably prefer Labour to the Conservatives, and would feel betrayed by supporting the Conservatives (including myself unless we got an *astonishingly* good deal).

Nick Clegg, the Liberal Democrat leader, though, is rumoured to be closer to the Conservatives.

One of the most important things we’ll be arguing for is a fairer voting system. The Conservatives *won’t* let us have this. Labour *might* – but they’re after a different system instead, which we don’t like. The Nationalists etc would side with us on this.

Nick Clegg can’t make a deal without the agreement of both the Federal Executive of the party *AND* the MPs – if he doesn’t get that agreement then he has to call a party conference to decide.

We’re not, however, a very large party compared to the other two, so don’t have a lot of room to manoeuvre.

Interesting times lie ahead. Whatever happens, a lot of people are going to be angry. Probably including me.

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7 Responses to A Quick Explanation For Americans And Other Confused Persons

  1. TAD says:

    Actually, you neglected to talk about the one area of the election I thought you’d be most interested in talking about……..why the Lib Dems did much worse than expected. I’m interested to hear your take on that.

    • Andrew Hickey says:

      I’m going to do a full post on that over the next couple of days. It’s a very interesting situation…

  2. Gavin Burrows says:

    I think the Scottish and Welsh Nationalists have already ruled out any formal alliance with Labour, who’s normally their main competitor. (The Tories got just one seat in the whole of Scotland.) And Sinn Fein will again refuse to take up their seats. The one Green (actually my new MP, lucky me!) is stastistically insignificant! It all points to a whole lot of fudging, then another election.

    To part-answer Tad’s question, the British public do have a strange psychological attachment to the Two Party system. The Lib Dems traditionally do well between elections or just prior to one, then everybody snaps back to Mummy or Daddy Party. The Lib Dems are a bit like the nice guy a girl flirts with, but then always elects to go back to her abusive boyfriend. My guess is another election in six months, which sees the Big Two get an even bigger share of the vote.

    …okay, that’s just illustrating the situation rather than explaining it!

    • Andrew Hickey says:

      Actually, Alex Salmond has said he has spoken to the leader of Plaid, and both definitely *would* support a relatively short-term formal coalition with Labour and the Lib Dems, with the aim of getting in a proportional system.

      • TAD says:

        I don’t think we really have the equivalent of a hung Parliament here in the US. Most Senates don’t feature a filibuster-proof majority….they’re rare, actually. Prior to 2009, I think the last filibuster-proof Senate was back around 1976, if I recall.

        Perhaps a divided Washington, in which one party controls Congress and the other controls the Presidency might be the nearest equivalent. But that’s quite common throughout US history, and our best economic times have often coincided with that, it seems.

        It’s actually more worrying when one party controls both the Presidency and Congress, because corruption tends to run amok and there’s little oversight (which caused enormous problems during the GW Bush’s Presidency….the lack of Congressional oversight was criminal in those years, I would argue).

  3. SK says:

    “The electorate have invented an instrument of excruciating torture for the Liberal Democrats”.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/nickrobinson/2010/05/torture_for_cle.html

  4. Nathan says:

    Interesting. Was curious about this election since unlike others it actually got multiple segments on the Daily Show/Colbert Report

    Seem like a sticky situation if I’m reading this right

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