Coalition of losers govern in United Kingdom
This is the headline the Conservatives and their apologists in the media would have screamed had the Liberal Democrats chosen to form a government with the Labour party, and left the Conservatives as the largest party and the opposition.
So on the grounds that no party actually won the election, the new Conservative Liberal Democrat government should also be called a coalition of losers. Of course its asking too much of the fans of the Tories to expect consistency. While I loath the Blairite Press Secretary Alistair Campbell, he succeeded in uncovering the clear pro Tory bias of the Murdoch controled Sky News and their political commentator Adam Boulton. Stunning.
I don't actually believe the headline in this post. Constitutionally speaking it is simply irrelevant that the Conservatives happened to win the largest share of the vote (36%). All that it is required is for a government to demonstrate it holds a majority in Parliament. Over 70% of Britain did not vote for the Conservatives. A rainbow coalition/support arrangement that comprised of Labour, the Lib Dems, the Greens and the Scottish and Welsh nationalist parties would have been just as legitimate as the Lib Con government that has just been formed, and in fact would have been more representative of a greater number of UK voters.
So why didn't the UK get a more progressive government?
The alternative so called 'rainbow' government was undermined by a number of factors. A significant faction of the Labour party, just like the born to rule Tories they really are, demonstrated an unwillingness to share power when they foolishly publicly dismissed an offer by the Scottish National Party to support an alternative government. Labour chastised the SNP for wishing to appear relevant, precisely because that is exactly what the SNP were - as vital to an alternative government as Labour. It is likely members of this faction, such as the loathsome David Blunkett, wished to drown an alternative government because there was too much danger of real electoral reform being the result. Some may have feared greater devolution of powers to the Scots and Welsh assemblies, even independence, but the result of this election is likely to increase pressure for this anyway - politically speaking the Kingdom is anything but United.
Another fear was that the SNP, the Welsh Nationalist party would demand some protection from the savage cuts to public spending as a price for their support. Actually this would have been a very democratic result. The Tories have no mandate outside Avalon - in Scotland they won a single seat and 16.7% of the vote, while in Wales the Conservatives won 8 seats out of 40 and 26% of the vote. In Northern Ireland they and their new partners won absolutely nothing. A coalition of losers indeed. It was England that voted for the Tories. So while the Scots, Welsh and Northern Irish may have felt for the greater cuts imposed on the English, they would have had a simple reply - you got the policies you voted for.
I believe Nick Clegg chose to form a government with the Tories in the final week of the election campaign, perhaps even before. I discussed some of the rationale for this in my previous post. Nothing else seems to explain his pronouncement in the final week that he would first try and form a government with the largest party. He would have known then this was likely to be the Tories. Just as I predicted, this move cost the Lib Dems significant numbers of seats as voters ran back to the major parties. I believe in doing this Clegg had another purpose - he was preparing his party to back the Conservatives over Labour.
It is also apparent that the Lib Dems are closer to the Tories in terms of their approach to dealing with the deficit. Yet a programme of savage cuts to public spending threatens to deepen the recession - Herbet Hoover made a similar mistake in the United States in the 1930s, and despite this neoliberals across the world are demanding the same mistakes be made all over again.
In a touch of irony, apparently Cameron made his first speech as Prime Minister as a rainbow could be seen across the sky of London. Now how powerful would that have been if Britain had been welcoming a rainbow coalition instead?