Hung Parliament, Where will it get us, or not get us?

A hung Parliament, is looking like a real possibility for the first time in a long long time.

This is where no party has an overall majority.

Why should you care? Because it means that a lot of the snap decisions that have been made recently would not have been able to be put through so easily.

The rather average Nick Clegg of the Lib Dems has claimed that he will side with whichever party has the most seats, in order to form a majority government if the need for a coalition arises. I am however sure that this will require some political sacrifice on the part of the ruling party, and if that does not work, a 3 way split is a real possibility.

There is already minority governments in the UK, for example. Scotland has a minority government. Scotland has 129 Members of Scottish Parliament (MSPs). 73 of these are constituency members and the remaining 56 members are top up members as discussed in my previous post.

The SNP however have formed a minority Government, led by Alex Salmond. Has this led to massive problems in legislation making? Not really, they don’t do much anyway…. With exceptionally limited powers.

My point is, there is no other place where we can see exactly what a minority/coalition government would mean for the UK.

Italy has a coaltion government, but that is, for want of a better term, pretty corrupt country with a different political ethic to that of the UK.

It is however undoubted that it would lead to large amounts of horse trading, such as what is seen in the EU (something I will undoubtedly touch on in a later post). Basically, currently, a party gets in and implements it’s manifesto, under a minority government this could not be guaranteed. But here comes the saving grace of the British constitution, Conventions.

There is a convention in the UK which states that the ruling party should not have their manifesto blocked in any way.

So yes, we know manifesto pledges will be stuck to, but what about emergencies?

This is surely when a government needs to act fastest.

This is a much hazier area, where we don’t really know what would happen, but if a party is dragging their heels, who knows.

One thing is for sure though. Under a hung Parliament, everything which is controversial in the slightest (Terrorism Act for example) would be discussed at back breaking length until there is a parliament wide compromise.

In some cases though there is an issue where there could be a minority party which has a ridiculous amount of say in politics.

If for example, the party needs just 1 more MP to have a majority, they might end up making substantial concessions to get that 1 extra MP on side (a green party member for example). That sounds slightly undemocratic doesn’t it?

At the same time though it removes the current element of rubber stamping that our Parliament seems to become when there is a huge majority.

It could easily be claimed that Tony Blair (1997-2005) and Thatcher 1979-1987) could more or less rule by themselves, as in these terms they had huge majorities and could easily survive a fairly large rebellion in Parliament with their huge majorities.

The problem came for them when they had to adjust in their final terms to not having such a large majority, and having to begin to give in to cabinet etc.

It is worthy of note that in1974 there was a hung Parliament in the February election which was quickly followed by another election in October which led to a Labour majority government.

So, there are clear arguments for both.

I would argue personally, but I would love to hear your opinion, that Hung parliament is right if it is democratically elected, but a hung parliament in a non PR system would be terrible. So, for example, if Labour end up getting 25% of the votes yet 30% of the seats, and Cons end up getting 35% of the votes and 30% of the seats (we already know the Tories need a roughly +7% swing) then that, I would argue would be the worst possible reason for there to be a hung Parliament….

It is however worth noting that we might see no real difference if there is a coalition or a minority government. With the consensual politics being the politics of the day, there is a chance things will go on as normal, which will surely be a serious indictment on the state of British Politics.

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