smhwpf: (Buffyanne)
So, Cameron in No. 10, at the head of a Tory-Lib Dem coalition.

In a way it was fairly inevitable, once the Tories got over 300 seats, that it would be hard to keep them out. A Lib-Lab government could have ruled, just, but would have been highly vulnerable and open to being castigated in the Tory press as a "coalition of the losers". The fact that Labour were so keen to dismiss offers of co-operation from the SNP didn't help. Then the row of Labour backbenchers lining up to denounce a deal with the Libs left the possibility dead in the water. A small number of Labour MPs defying the whip on something like PR could have scuppered such a coalition very quickly, and led to what would probably be a Tory majority in a new election within a year.

My first reaction is that it's not as bad as all that. The fact that New Labour is out, with its appalling record on issues such as Iraq and civil liberties, is itself a good thing. I hope now that, facing both the other parties in government, it will realise that the only direction it can oppose from is the Left, and start renewing itself with that in mind.

Secondly, the worst excesses of the Tories will be tempered by the Lib Dems - some stuff we know about like raising the inheritance tax threshold, is already out the window. That's not to say there won't be a lot of Tory stuff I don't like getting through, but not as much as were there a Tory majority. And, a prospect of some genuinely progressive Lib Dem policies getting through, including of course a referendum on AV - not an ideal system, but some move away from FPTP at least shows that it is possible. I am also encouraged by having Vince Cable of the Lib Dems as Business and Banking Secretary, and Chris Huhne as Energy & Climate Change.

However, I think that probably the worst immediate effect of the new government will be the speeding up of the cuts package, with £6 billion extra cuts in prospect this budget year. Just today came news that UK unemployment reached 2.5 million, 8% of the workforce. More cuts now, leading to direct reductions in government jobs and indirect losses through reduction in demand, will create more job losses.

In terms of opposing from the Left, this may be one of the most important issues for Labour to take up. Unemployment is a traditional Labour issue, and one of the big successes of the Blair-Brown government - loathe as I am to admit it - was to reduce unemployment substantially, at least until the current crisis.

Right now everyone focuses on the deficit as the big economic problem. It certainly is a problem, and if allowed to remain at these levels for very long would be a serious problem. But unemployment causes widespread human misery now, and may continue to do so well into the future. This should receive far more priority from government and the media than it does. Cameron talks about "Broken Britain" - insofar as parts of Britain are "broken", it was mass unemployment that broke it, which began in the Thatcher era. That is what created housing estates where no-one worked, whole sections of cities abandoned by the economy and the government. That is what has blighted Britain's youth and destroyed social solidarity.

The Tories do not care about unemployment. If anything, it is welcomed by the right as it weakens the power of organized labour. That was certainly a big bonus for Thatcher. The default response of Conservatives to unemployment is to blame the victims. The Lib Dems are bigger, but they lack Labour's traditional connections to the union movement and the working classes, all but destroyed as that was by New Labour. On this issue, I do not trust the Lib Dems to soften Tory policies that much.

Will anyone speak for the unemployed under the new government? A lot of that will be down to the next Labour leader, whoever that is.
smhwpf: (Buffy fire)
Votes: Con 36.1% Lab 29.0% Lib Dem 23.0% UKIP 3.1% BNP 1.9% Green 1.0% SNP 1.7% Plaid 0.6% DUP 0.6% Sinn Fein 0.6% SDLP 0.4% UCUNF 0.3% Alliance 0.1% All others 1.7%

Seats: Con 306 Lab 258 Lib Dem 57 Green 1 SNP 6 Plaid 3 DUP 8 Sinn Fein 5 SDLP 3 Alliance 1 Lady Sylvia Hermon 1, Byelection (safe Con) 1


My first thought? It's not as bad as all that. )

What next? )

What happens depends not just on the strength of Clegg's spine, but on the degree of support and public pressure for a change in the system. There is a post-election Take back Parliament - post-Election demo for democracy in Trafalgar Square at 2pm today. (Sadly my flight from Sweden today - I'm spending by chance the next week in Britain for work/friends-visiting - gets in too late). No doubt this will not be the last such thing. At any rate, the last thing progressives in Britain need to be doing right now is leaving it to the politicians.
smhwpf: (Default)
At the moment the Tories are up 92 (from a base of 210). The remaining seats that are uncertain are:

- 2 Lib Dem seats highly vulnerable to the Tories, plus maybe 1 long shot
- 6 Labour seats highly vulnerable to the Tories (including Amber Valley where there's a recount) plus about 2 long-shots
- 1 Tory seat vulnerable to the Lib Dems
- Fermanagh & South Tyrone where there is a second recount between Sinn Fein and the joint Unionist candidate. Apparently at one stage the difference was 8 votes.
- 1 Labour seat that the Lib Dems might take, where there is a recount (Oldham E & Saddleworth).

Best guess: based on the regional swings, and information from counts, the Tories should take (albeit narrowly) the 2 Lib Dem seats and 4 of the Labour ones, with Labour keeping Morecombe & Lunesdale and Poplar & Limehouse. Let's assume that happens. Then, depending on the recounts we have:

Tories 307 (plus 1 they will expect to get in the byelection caused by a candidate dying)
Labour 259-260
Lib Dems 54-55
Plaid 3
Greens 1
Joint Unionist 0-1
Ind. lefty Unionist 1
Alliance 1
Sinn Fein 4-5

Thus, Labour+Lib Dems + Labour allies (SDLP & ILU) would equal 318, whereas Tories + probably allies would have 315-316. But these figures could vary by, say, 1-2 seats either way.

The upshot would be that either would need the Nats on board to scrape a majority - and I really can't see the SNP and Plaid being keen on sustaining a minority Tory government, especially when the Tories have done so badly in Scotland and Wales.

So: Labour + Lib Dem + Nats (+Green?) could just get a majority. Or, the Tories would need to get the Lib Dems on board to be able realistically to govern.

There's going to be some hard bargaining over the next few days.

ETA: Labour hold Poplar & Limehouse and Ellsemere Port, the former a serious Tory (and Respect) target, the latter a Tory long-shot.

Exit poll

May. 6th, 2010 11:06 pm
smhwpf: (Staying calm)
Exit poll:

Con 307
Lab 255
Lib Dem 59
Others 29

Not good for the Lib Dems. But I find it unlikely - if they do better, that may pull the Tories below that figure. Also may be more Others. Because there will very probably be 10 Nats, and hard to believe only one other other.

This would put Cameron in number 10 but as a minority govt.

Tories + various Unionists except Lady Sylvia: 316-317
Lab + Lib Dems + SDLP + Lady Sylvia: 318

I.E. the Tories would need to talk to either the Lib Dems or the Nats, or scrape by day by day.

Labour would have to get the Lib Dems and the Nats onside.

If the Lib Dems do do better than this - I think 300 is the magic number. Below that, and Labour + Lib Dems may be able to effectively get together a coalition - they might not do so, but the possibility would give the Lib Dems more negotiating strength.
smhwpf: (Buffyanne)
Well, the last opinion poll before the exit polls is in, from Ipsos-Mori, probably one of the more reputable polling organizations. It gives figures of Tories 36%, Labour 29%, Lib Dems 27%, Others therefore presumably 8%.

On the basis of a uniform national swing, this would give a Parliament with 282 Tories, 254 Labour, 81 Lib Dems and 33 others (presumably 18 from Northern Ireland, 10 SNP+Plaid, and 5 others, possibly including the odd Green).

However, they also calculate a scenario based on a possible larger swing to the Tories in key marginals, which they say would give them an extra 25 seats. This is roughly in line with the sort of figures obtained by Nate Silver at Five Thirtyeight, in terms of how many extra seats he gives the Tories compared to uniform national swing.

The main difference is that the idea that if Labour go down by 7% nationally compared to 2005 (as the Mori poll shows), then they go down by 7 percentage points in every constituency doesn't make sense. A much better base assumption is that, since they are losing just under a fifth of their votes, they are losing just under a fifth of their votes everywhere. It's more complicated than that, but the main upshot is that, since in your typical Labour-Tory marginal Labour had more than their national share last time (consider, say, a seat that was Labour 45%, Tories 35%, Lib Dem 20%), they will lose, on average, more than 7% in such seats. Nearly 9% in that example.

So, what would this mean? Let's suppose that the marginals effect also helps the Lib Dems against Labour a bit, so as a rough scenario we might get something like:

Conservative 307
Labour 220
Lib Dem 90
Nats 10
Others 5
Northern Irish parties 18

Both of these scenarios, the uniform swing and the adjusted swing, would mean a "hung Parliament", as you need 326 for an overall majority. But the difference between the two is enormous.

In the first scenario, either Tory+Lib Dem or Labour+Lib Dem gives enough seats to reach an overall majority. In other words, the Lib Dems would have a great deal of negotiating power, as they could choose who to put in 10 Downing Street. They would geuinely hold the balance of power. They would probably feel constrained to negotiate with the Tories first, so as not to be seen to be propping up a defeated Gordon Brown and going against the wishes of the electorate, but they could demand a high price for support - including proportional representation, no ifs, no buts.

The second scenario would be very different. Labour + Lib Dem would not be enough for a majority on its own. They would need the support not just of the Scottish and Welsh Nationalists, but also some of the others and/or Northern Irish parties to scrape together a highly unstable majority. We should break down Northern Ireland a bit here. This is a hypothetical, and I defer to [ profile] nwhyte for more detailed analysis, but let's suppose we get:

DUP 8 (-1)
UUP 1 (no change, allied with the Conservatives)
Lady Sylvia Hermon (Ind Unionist, apparently says she'll take the Labour whip)
Sinn Fein 5 (no change, won't turn up to Parliament)
SDLP 3 (no change, take the Labour whip)

Things may differ by a seat here or there, but I think that's a plausible scenario. Sinn Fein not turning up lowers the bar to 323. So this would mean that Labour+Lib Dem+SDLP+Sylvia Hermmon+SNP/Plaid = 324, which is just across the line, but rather a Heath-Robinson coalition, which would look ridiculous and lead to them being castigated in the media, and probably not last a year.

In practice in other words, the Lib Dems would have no choice but to talk to the Tories, and would thus be able to demand much less. Cameron would have a much freer hand. In fact, they could quite plausibly operate as a minority government, without a formal deal, as with the support of Unionists they'd have 316 votes, and could probably get through on a day-to-day basis, although they would have to have some regard to the opposition parties with what they tried to get through. But it would take a concerted effort by all the opposition parties to defeat the Cameron government, and they might be reluctant to do so on something like the Queen's Speech or the Budget, thus provoking fresh elections.

And, if the Tories got even a few more seats than in the above example, then they would be able to govern along providing they could procure the support of the DUP.

Between the uniform swing and the above scenario, there are various permutations; somewhere between 295 and 300 seats would be what the Tories need to make it impossible for Labour + Lib Dem to form a majority for example, although they need to get to about 304-305 to be in a position where they would have a viable choice of partners themselves.

In other words, the election is, as many observers have pointed out, poised on a knife-edge. The Tories will almost certainly be the largest party, they probably won't quite get a majority, but a small number of seats could determine whether Cameron basically goes directly to No. 10, only having to make minor concessions to the Lib Dems or other opposition parties, or whether we have a genuinely hung Parliament where the Lib Dems - and possibly other minor parties - will be able to exercise a strong negotiating role, and advance significant portions of their agenda.

But we will know in the next 12 hours or so.

UK Election

May. 5th, 2010 12:10 am
smhwpf: (Winter is coming)
I feel I should say something about the election.

I have voted; I voted Liberal Democrat again, for Stephen Williams, the outgoing MP in Bristol West where I remain registered as an overseas voter. The seat is a three-way marginal, so while I was tempted by the Greens and by Mark Thomas's "People's Manifesto" candidate, it was a fairly clear choice.

Lib Dem pluses )

The Lib Dems are not going to win the election, although their advance in the polls is quite hopeful. I am really, really hoping that there will be a hung Parliament. One where both the other parties are sufficiently far from a majority that the Lib Dems really do hold the balance and can demand electoral reform.

Because I really, really do not want either Labour or the Conservatives to win the election. )

Which leads to the conclusion that I want the Lib Dems to win the election, but as I say that's not going to happen.

Being in a Lib Dem seat I don't have to worry about tactical voting (except insofar as voting LD rather than Green is itself a tactical vote for me). If I were in a Labour-Tory marginal, I'm not sure what I'd do, whether I could stomach voting for either of them.

Thing is, for the Lib Dems to have real influence in the next Parliament, they need to not just get a good number of votes and seats, they need for the other parties to need them. Even if there's a technically hung Parliament, if the Tories get, say, about 310 seats, they will be able to govern with the help of the Unionists and maybe the acquiescence of the odd independent, or get through vote by vote, passing the budget by, say, protecting Scotland and Wales from cuts or something.

Thus, given that the way things look the Tories are going to be the largest party and possibly not that far off a majority, the Lib Dems need Labour to do not too badly - at least against the Tories.

So I suppose I would encourage, not so much tactical voting in Labour-Tory marginals, as strategic voting to ensure as thoroughly hung a Parliament as possible. I think if Labour were ahead at the moment I'd say the reverse - though advocating voting Tory would go against the grain.

Well, here's to the most thoroughly hung Parliament possible.


smhwpf: (Default)

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