Are we not sick of coalitions? How GE2015 might go down

I’ve noticed that since the Cameron v Miliband debate on television last month, newspapers have seemingly upped the ante and begun the ritual pre-election fear mongering. The Times has begun to spout worries of some ungodly Labour/SNP/(and maybe) Lib Dem coalition, telling its readers that if this were to happen, Scotland would wield all the power in British politics. As good old fashioned Englishmen, The Times writes, we can’t be having that. This, coming from a paper owned by an Australian.

 

 

If Labour find themselves in a slightly-advantageous-but-not-enough position, with Cameron mimicking his predecessor and “squatting” in Downing Street with a small minority, it is possible that Labour will speak to the SNP. I doubt the Liberal Democrats will be happy about this; if they became involved, they would become even more sidelined despite technically maintaining some power. This would frustrate Lib Dem supporters even more, after the testing times the past five years have presented. The SNP might begrudgingly team-up with Labour – but this would not be a sustainable partnership. The political right, even moderate Conservatives, would have a field day and the media, if nothing else, would ultimately destroy them. Despite what the Tories might currently think, the idea of Labour working with the SNP would not result in an elaborate puppet Government, where Alex Salmond controls the agenda. It would result in political bickering, inconsistent rhetoric, and a huge voter shift towards the Tories – who would be back in power in no time as a result. If anything, such a short-lived coalition might ultimately be good for the Tories. The worst thing is that I think the Parties know this – and so we have little reason to fear the Times’ supposed predictions.

 

Soon Britain will be treated to yet another TV debate, this time involving all the seven major party leaders. Some view this as a celebration of parliamentary democracy, others are more dubious towards it. The latter group of people are right to voice concerns; for all his faults, it is Nigel Farage that has come out on top of similar debates (such as the ones over Europe with Nick Clegg a while ago) and knows how to evoke a populist mood against what he views as the systemically problematic and elitist politics of Britain. Come election night, I think people will be surprised to find that UKIP won’t have won as many seats as estimated. Simply put, people are not ready to invest in an outsider again; casting their ballot for a man who ostensibly claims to be a saviour among the drab ineffectiveness of Parliament. Many took this plunge with Clegg and this only stood to prove those same populists right: they are working to protect their interests over the hopes of their supporters. Farage is even more of a wildcard than Clegg was in 2010; both men have, at points, used the national mood to convey their agendas. Yet Clegg has proved that the impracticalities of becoming elected means you must stay in the realm of reality. This would be even more of a problem with the idealist and populist Farage, whose party is evidently not prepared to have any form of Parliamentary power.

 

Very recently, reports have been published detailing the warning of 100 business chiefs who claim that only the Conservatives can ensure a more effective economic recovery. They should know; they no doubt are close to many in the Party and have used their expertise to endorse them. Nevertheless, they have a point. Britain is still recovering from economic events beyond its control, and a dramatic change in taxes and spending only stands to endanger this. Even The Independent has recently published reports suggesting that towards the end of its tenure, the Tory/Lib Dem coalition began to get results. Recently Britain reached zero inflation; better late than never. Moreover, Cameron’s pledge for an in-out referendum in Europe might win over right-wing Euro-sceptic populists when they enter the voting booth. And to top it off, he has promised not to “do a Thatcher/Blair” by pledging not to seek a third term. In a swoop he stands to win over conscious economic observers and businessmen, populists, and those who remember the horror of third-term Prime Ministers. This makes up a large portion of the electorate. On foreign policy, Cameron has been fairly mediocre – the middle-east continues to have troubles of its own, whilst Anglo-American relations are remain on good terms. But George Osborn’s visits to China seem promising - the Tories are investing in the future, another thing people might be beginning to realise as economic growth has become slow-burning. Overall, the Tories will win the upcoming election, most likely with a small majority. This will lead to Miliband’s replacement as Labour leader and probably result in an unelected Conservative Prime Minister to replace the incumbent at some point in the late 2010s. 

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