Another fine mess?

The latest polls reveal a muddle. By a large margin now people do not want a hung Parliament. They seem to accept that the UK needs a government which can get to work on sorting out the many problems which are obvious to most observers. Yet those same polls suggest a hung Parliament is a likely outcome. That just adds to the difficulty of the individual voter’s decision. Ignore tactical voting and you may end up with a hung Parliament. Indulge in tactical voting and you still end up with a hung Parliament, as for each of us it is nowhere near in our power to decide as it all depends on how the others vote. In any Parliament where the Conservatives do not have a working majority there is the possibility that the “progressives” – Labour, the Lib Dems, and the various Naitonalists,could come together to form a coaliton government, even though Labour had lost the election.

The biggest argument against a hung Parliament is it delivers too much power to certain politicians and parties. Many voters have felt that the politicians have not taken enough heed of their wishes in recent Parliaments. They could find a hung Parliament even less to their taste.

I would also say to some voters, beware lest in the short term you do get what you ask for. If voters in sufficient numbers think the UK can muddle through at current levels of public spending and borrowing, avoiding difficult decisions, then think again. Even Labour in its more honest moments says they need to halve the deficit, without telling us much of the detail of how they would do that.

Can you imagine the partners in a “progressive coalition” – Mr Hain’s latest dream – wanting to sit down after an election to settle all the detail of spending cuts? Much more likely would be endless haggling over the Cabinet and other Ministerial jobs, the wish to expand the number of such jobs to accommodate more egos, and then the insistence by each party to such a coalition that certain crucial budgets be protected on their public say so. As I understand it, “progressive coalition” means a grouping of politicians who all believe a larger state is the answer, who all think spending more public money than we currently do can build the perfect society. As they would all be looking forwards to an early election to improve their respective positions, I cannot see such a group wanting to tackle the finances.

The only issue would be, would the markets force them to take action as they are forcing Greece before the second election, or would such a coalition call a second election in time? All this would merely delay the inevitable.

There are a large number of people still saying they have not made up their minds. So we could see a late swing to a majority government, or just more people voting for a hung Parliament.

Promoted by Christine Hill on behalf of John Redwood, both of 30 Rose Street Wokingham RG40 1XU


  1. tim
    May 5, 2010

    What do you mean by " lost the election."This is of course why this article is complete nonsense as there is no clear agreement. If there is a definition please provide it.

    If the voters do produce a hung Parliament then that is the decision. You confuse this result with what you suggest could be the outcomes.

    If you believe indemocracy and a progressive majority forms well then the Conservatives have to respond.

    Reply: I will regard Labour as losing the election if they lose their Parliamentary majority -something all the polls are forecasting. Of course as a good democrat I will accept the judgement of the people, but I also reserve the right to criticise any government formed if I disagree with its actions and attitudes.

  2. Alan
    May 5, 2010

    Yes, it will be grossly inconvenient if there is a hung parliament. Instead of just taking almost dictatorial powers Mr Cameron will have to negotiate with others. But it is in the nature of democracy to be inconvenient for its leaders. At the other extreme, tyranny is very convenient for the leaders, but few would argue that is a reason to adopt it.

    And, yes, it is a fine mess that we cannot come to a clear decision in the present election; but that is the result of the First Past the Post electoral system which you are advocating. It has peripheral advantages, such as giving an exciting result, but it is insufficiently democratic.

    One of the basic principles of Conservatism is, I think, that everyone should be treated fairly. Those of us who live in 'safe' seats are not being treated fairly. We cannot influence which party forms the government. I think the degree of difficulty it might cause in making government work is less important in deciding an electoral system than its adherence to fairness – everyone should have an equal say in who forms the government.

    There are many reasonable points made about the importance of linking an MP to a constituency, and the value of getting a government that is free to do what it thinks is right, but they are all beside the main point. They are secondary issues that can be dealt with when we have worked out who is to form the government. The basic point of a democratic system is that everyone should get an equal share in deciding who forms the government.

    Finally, in spite of my many disagreements with your policies, I wish you personally luck in tomorrow's election. You state your views clearly, using logic, and you treat your opponents with courtesy. There are too few people like you in current UK politics.

    Reply: Thank you for your kind comments.

  3. Mick Anderson
    May 5, 2010

    "Another fine mess" – you're not casting Mr Mandleson as Stanley to Mr Browns Oliver, are you?

    Regarding the deficit, the Conservative Party have not made it clear enough to the less-than-obsessive that this ultimately needs to be reduced to zero. Mr Brown seems to have persuaded the gullible that it merely needs to be shrunk by about half, ignoring the fact that this is still increasing the National Debt daily. The only acceptable long-term average for the deficit is zero. The only question should be how fast to achieve this.

    The best thing the Conservative leadership could have done to prevent a hung Parliament would have been to learn from editorial and comments on this blog – primarily keeping the "cast-iron guarantee" of a vote on Europe, and being far more drastic with promising cuts. Too late now, though. It's in the lap of whatever god you might choose to believe in.

    JR: Please consider that some of us don't want a hung Parliament, but that we don't believe that any of the three main protagonists deserve an outright win. It's a negative thing, not the positive one that we would prefer.

    1. alan jutson
      May 5, 2010


      Certainly agree with your second paragraph ref deficit and debt.

      Perhaps if the Conservative Party had been a bit more clear in its message over the past two or more years, we would not now be facing such a close result.

      If Cameron does not have a working majority he only has himself to blame.

      What does this say about the opposition, when we have had the worst Government in my living memory, and it would seem that they still will have a job to win.

  4. lola
    May 5, 2010

    "Mr Hain’s latest dream…" – our nightmare. Anything dreamed up by Hain is a democratic and economic nightmare.

  5. lola
    May 5, 2010

    Cutting the 'deficit' by half is no good. That just means that we go on going into debt at half the rate. We have to eliminate the deficit and then set about halving the (National) debt.

    Can't any of you make this simple pair of facts clear to the electorate?

  6. Sally C.
    May 5, 2010

    JR, your understanding of the term 'progressive' is absolutely right. It is a cover word for 'socialist', and it is designed to deliberately deceive.

  7. Brian Tomkinson
    May 5, 2010

    The country's economy is in a dire state and all the media talk, just one day before polling day, is not about how this vital issue will be tackled but whether we need a hung Parliament and a new voting system. This may suit Clegg but, because there has been a failure to properly expose the shear scale of the problems we face and the remedies, the public mind has been diverted away from the real issues. Those phoney TV 'debates' may have changed political awareness but not for the better.

  8. Simon D
    May 5, 2010

    1. Britain is a left-liberal country (Labour + LDs) but the left-liberal vote is split, giving the Conservatives a window to obtain power.

    2. Team Cameron has almost certainly not delivered an absolute majority. With hindsight Cameron should have gone head to head only with Brown. However, miracles (as in 1992) might still happen.

    3. A majority of the British public thinks we can muddle along on the economy without seriously nasty medicine and that a left-liberal coalition is unlikely to inflict serious damage on the public sector. Taxing the rich will be a popular slogan.

    4. This morning the BBC Today Programme team was giggling like a bunch of schoolchildren during an item on the possibility of a hung parliament. They clearly thought the horror of a Conservative victory had been averted. Orders for election night champagne at the BBC will no doubt be increased.

    5. Game show/talent show politics is now embedded into the political process. The left-liberal media are ecstatic – TV media 5 Print media 1.

    6. Friday will be one of the most remarkable days in British politics for 100 years as Labour and the LibDems manoeuvre for power and, equally important, the exclusion of Team Cameron. Gordon Brown might still be at number 10 this weekend.

    7. However, you can't buck the markets. We still await their verdict. Unlike that from the left-liberal British public and its media, the market will deliver a clear and unambiguous statement of its views on the prospects for the British economy.

    1. lola
      May 5, 2010

      Re point 1, when surveyed the Great British Public actually turned out to be more libertarian than left liberal. That is they were both economically and socially libertarian. (I can't at the moment find the link to the survey. It was cited on various recent-ish news programmes.)

      The real 'success' of the left-liberals has been to poison the brand of the other thing. Most people really can't be bothered with politics (quite rightly) and do not study the competing policy offerings closely. Along with the progressive death of tribal politics (a la the Sainted Mrs Duffy – 'I've been a Labour voter all my life'. Why?) has been the rise of the X-Factor politics (someone else has used this phrase in the meeja – but Mrs Lola will confirm that I have used the description for some time). Voting therefore becomes more emotional and driven by immediate reactions to personalities. Perhaps the slow decline of the quality of Parliament and its debates just reflects the decline of real political argument in the country?

      Just a thought.

      1. Steve Tierney
        May 5, 2010

        I would suggest that Britain is actually a right-liberal country. When you ask people's views they often espouse right-centre ideas even if they vote Labour, or Lib Dem or BNP.

        PR, for all that I think it will be a terrible mistake for the country – does have some silver linings. The parties would almost certainly break into factions, creating several smaller parties. The "old names" would be replaced by new ones and people would have to listen to policy. At which point, my suspicion is that the right-of-center parties would take power quite easily.

      2. waramess
        May 6, 2010

        Could be that trust in politicians is now at zero.

        How can you trust any one of the three main parties when they refuse to spell out the scale of the problem.

        OK I know Churchill tried to spell it out and then went from eighty percent support to losing the election but far better that than this bunch of chancers thinking they can get away with fooling the electorate.

        Obviously it means more to them to win than to play with honour.

  9. Athelstan
    May 5, 2010

    Anyone who seriously believes that the Nu-Labour party is NOT going to cut deeply is as deluded as Brown himself.
    Britain is in for a big shock.
    I hope the socialists who are responsible for trashing Britain will be trounced in tomorrows election but can we be sure it will be a fair and true ballot?
    Nu-Labour have failed and lied enough, they have been a disaster for Britain; duplicitously 'sold' the country into European enthralment for less than thirty pieces of silver and changed the ethnic mix of the population without a 'by your leave', finally left us drowning in debt.
    I am not the greatest fan of 'cast iron' but he is our only hope, if he does win power, he should immediately call in the IMF to review the books and recommend a budget readjustment.
    Brown has played fast and loose with the truth and with the deficit balance, if the IMF takes a look at the real figures, then all of Brown's 'creative' accounting will be unveiled in very stark relief.

    The IMF would make clear the necessary cuts and re-balancing required: this will not be a pleasant restructuring, there will be a severe curtailment of the client state and civil service but it is about time the bloated state sector was pruned.

    Thus the Tories can point the finger at Brown as the cause of the economic pain to come and go about their plans to give power, responsibility and hope back to the British people.

    (And withdraw Britain from the clutches of the EU federalist tyranny – forlorn hope).

    1. waramess
      May 6, 2010

      Remember Cleggies policies are distinctly left of centre and Gordon must be eyeing their projected combined share of the vote with some interest.

      Don't believe these shysters cannot sort out some insanely evil plan to stuff the electorate again.

      How about offering Cleggie the sum of cabinet seats equal to his percentage at the polls.

      I do hope that Cameron is outflanked and then we can elect a relatively straightforward leader, whilst at the same time avoid the blame for a double dip

  10. Javelin
    May 5, 2010

    Friday morning Gilt trading is being called "The Big Hedge".

    News is clients are NOT betting on the markets as it's too close to call. It's only the big institutions/counterparties that are taking positions in the future bond markets. This means that there is a lot of money held back at the moment pending the results of the election. Traders are expecting a BIG PRICE JUMP later in the morning and want to get ahead of the market.

    1. Mark
      May 5, 2010

      I'd have thought there may be other large pools of money looking to move: for example, investors in Spanish bonds will be eyeing the possibility of downgrade and the need for a flight to credit agency sanctioned quality – surely the reason why Bunds and gilts have been firming in recent days. Logically, Bunds now have a negative outlook because of the extent of the Greek bailout and the implications for the other PIIGS.

  11. A.Sedgwick
    May 5, 2010

    As a very lukewarm supporter of DC I feel that he has done enough to win a small majority, say single figures. The disappointment is that it could have been a cakewalk if he had pledged one of several options e.g. the removal of PC that has totally changed our sense of right and wrong and fair play. A day doesn’t go by without some stupid or disturbing example. The Police Service, no longer a Force, has become an instrument of Government directives and the common sense of old fashioned policing has been largely removed. Local Government is massively hamstrung with bureaucracy and legislation and in several areas hopelessly ineffective e.g. planning and travellers.

    The elephant is, of course, still the EU referendum, his credibility for many nosedived on that cast iron pledge.

  12. pauper
    May 5, 2010

    If a hung parliament indicates a nation in a dithery and undecided frame of mind, then Mr Brown must be the ideal person to represent us. Cometh the hour, cometh the man.

    The bond markets will soon make up our minds for us. One click of a mouse and – poof! -the money will be elsewhere.

    Good luck tomorrow, Mr Redwood. Your country needs you. One day it may even listen to you, when it's exhausted all other possibilities.

  13. Lindsay McDougall
    May 5, 2010

    The odd thing is that the LibDems have taken 5% from the Conservatives and only 2% from Labour during the course of the campaign. They are perceived by some as alternative Tories yet their manifesto has far more in common with Labour's than ours. We haven't really brought this out.

    If there is a hung parliament, I doubt if the Conservatives can be a minority government. We would run into a no confidence motion fairly soon. Better for us a LibDem minority government on which we pull the plug in December. Give them enough rope to hang themselves!! But pity the poor country.

    Congratulations and thanks to John Redwood for organising this blog site. We all have pretty robust opinions and the only censorship has clearly been related to possible libel actions and breaches of the law.

    1. ManicBeancounter
      May 5, 2010

      I quite agree. Although their proposal to raise the income tax threshold to £10,000 is a libertarian thing to do, the funding of it by plugging tax avoidance, mansion taxes, higher capital gains tax and higher corporation tax is an appeal to the Labour Left.

  14. Tim
    May 5, 2010

    The reason why the Conservatives struggle to get a good lead is because they don't care about the suffering of ordinary people. 'Unemployment is a price worth paying' as if people are dispensable pawns.

    Policies which benefit the richest 1 or 2% are the last things we need but the first that the Conservatives put forward.

    1. Chris
      May 5, 2010

      Much as I think IHT is an inherently unjust tax, I can't think why Cameron didn't quietly shelve the IHT cut saying it was not affordable at the moment. It's about the only genuine target Labour have had to aim at during the campaign. I remember Ken Clark tried to back pedal on it a while back and got slapped down. The idea that Conservatives don't care about the suffering of ordinary people is a lazy argument. Of course they do – they want people to vote for them! Tories want everyone to do well and be successful – fundamentally it's a positive philosophy. Full employment comes as the consequence of a strong economy. Get the economy right and all good things will come. If you try to use public money to create non productive employment then eventually you will run out of money and have to sack them all. This is now happening in Greece and is about to happen here whoever wins tomorrow. Your 'unemployment is a price worth paying' quote was by Norman Lamont. What he meant to say (!) was that while higher unemployment in the short term is deeply regrettable, controlling inflation will lead to faster growth in long term sustainable employment. I think the Conservatives struggle to get a good lead because they can be tactically inept and ineptly tactless. They still have the right ideas though!

      Reply: Shelving it was thought more damaging as it woiuld have meant changing a firm promise made, and a promise which was popular when first delivered. Labour were so worried about it, they set about distorting it, claiming it helped just the mega rich whereas it clearly stated millionaries should pay IHT. Remember how upset people were when DC delivered on his promise to vote for a referendum on Lisbon prior to its ratification , but did not go on to promise to hold one after ratification in a way which led some to falsely claim he had ratted on that promise. The promie to cut IHT clearly always related to the period after the election of Conservative government, not before.

    2. pauper
      May 5, 2010

      The 1% with the highest incomes pay 23% of the income tax. Some benefit!

    3. Steve Tierney
      May 5, 2010

      You really are boring, Tim. Can't you say ANYTHING without the obligatory spin, lies and deception?

    4. ManicBeancounter
      May 5, 2010

      The Labour Party is a bit like some family GPs. Gives you a lot of time to ramble, sends you for loads of tests and then can't make the right diagnosis. Only Labour would then claim that the problem was something different and they got the diagnosis spot on.

      A telling comparison is my family GP. He has mellowed with age, but many think him arrogant and unfriendly. He does not dwell on chit-chat, and lacks empathy. You hardly have time to sit down before he hands you a prescription.
      But in my experience he is excellent at diagnosing and giving the correct treatment. And he rarely runs late.

      My GP may not have the empathy of many GPs, but his results in the least suffering.

    5. waramess
      May 6, 2010

      You are right of course but the EU help nobody by having implementing the minimum wage.

      Unemployment is one of the most severe economic sanctions but sustained unemployment will be aided by the minimum wage.

  15. Neil Craig
    May 5, 2010

    I suppose if you believe a balanced Parliament the worst option you could start calling on all Conservative & UKIP voters to vote LibDem. A 10% swing to them might well give them an overall majority over both the other 2 – such are the vagaries of our electoral system.

    No I don't reccomend it either, though if the LDs had publ;icly pushed PR as the main reason to vote for them rather than their insane Ludditry & promised a new election as soon as a democratic electoral system was in place I would have & I think most of the people who voted for PR supporting parties at the Euro election (ie the large majority) would have.

    Our current electoral system is corrupt, anti-democratic & produces massive barriers to entry to new ideas in British politics.

    1. ManicBeancounter
      May 5, 2010

      Why do people call the lack of a party with an overall majority a "balanced" parliament? It suggests some sort of equilibrium between opposing parties. It is likely to be anything but stable.

      If it were true that the best government comes from a compromise of opposing views then a PR systemwould be preferable. But for a free and properous society, it is a sense of values and a vision of how things ought to be is required. If those visions are quite different, then compromise is not possible. If there is no clear vision, then the state will tend to enlarge over time.

      1. Neil Craig
        May 6, 2010

        Philosophically Mark I go for politics as the art of reaching compromise – which may seem strange considering what an argumentative fellow I am but I believe in putting forward tour real views before moving to compromise.

        In any case while I agree a sense of values is required if these values are enforced by dictat of a party chosen by 1/3rd of the voters then they will not take root. Persuasion may be slower but is surer.

        There are people who will not be placated by any offer of compromise ("Militant" Trots, Greens) but they have far more chance of getting power, through entryism, under an electoral system that puts power in the party machine than in one where the people have untrammeled choice (indeed this nearly happend to Labour in the 70s/80s)

  16. Mark
    May 5, 2010

    At this election none of the parties has even begun to set out in their manifestos the measures that will be needed to straighten the country out. Only intelligent commentary at sites such as yours begins to address the issues properly. The consequence is that the next government – whatever it turns out to be – will not have a mandate to do what is required, and very probably will not even accept what they need to do, even where they have a small number of MPs who do understand the realities.

    Conservatives did attempt to launch that debate last year, but were slapped down by the media who wished to pretend that everything in the garden remained lovely, fearing that the truth might even incite riots. Well, they've seen the possibility become reality in Greece now. The priority after the election will be to get the truth into the open. Then Labour can be rightly consigned to the dustbin of history, and a second election can give a proper mandate for the action needed to set the country straight. I could imagine that might look rather like the election of 1931, with a large Conservative majority, yet a national government.

  17. Acorn
    May 5, 2010

    Firstly, can I wish you JR, all the best for tomorrow.

    Secondly, I read that the Whitehall mandarins are working out a protocol for sorting a hung parliament. You would think a sclerotic old democracy like ours would have a rule for everything and its mate! As the Civil Service works for the "executive" and not the "legislature", it will be interesting to see at what point in the protocol, they start slamming the doors in the face of the "un-chosen".

    Thirdly, with the above in mind, I wonder if the protocol takes account of not only the constituency seats that are won, but the share of the popular vote? Should the hung parliament end up with "circular references unresolved", (my spreadsheet programme's favourite retort); who gets to decide; the Queen or the Bond market?

  18. SJB
    May 5, 2010

    Let us assume the Conservatives do win a small majority of the seats in the House of Commons seats but their share of the vote is around 35%.

    Will not the markets draw the conclusion that large public spending cuts will be difficult to impose without a popular mandate? Consequently limited cuts may have to be the order of the day until another election (in six months?) is held. By contrast, a public spending cuts programme (e.g. public sector pay freeze, increase in rate and scope of VAT) may be achieved faster by a coalition government (e.g. Con & LibDem).

  19. BillyB
    May 5, 2010

    It wouldn't be so bad if the government had spent all this borrowing on something useful for the country's future. Investment in transport, energy or internet infrastructure etc. Apart from re-capitalizing the banks – where has it all gone ?

    1. James Clover
      May 5, 2010

      "Jungle Jims" in school playgrounds, judging by round here. They don't seem to know how best to spend the education budget. Alas, more spending does not lead to higher standards of education; better discipline does.

  20. Matt
    May 5, 2010

    It’s my desire that on Friday we see a Conservative government with a majority.

    I suppose the only other likely result is that we get a hung parliament, but I still wouldn’t be surprised to see Labour as the biggest party in terms of seats, coming second in the number of votes cast.

    It’s a depressing thought, but in medium to long term this may be the best possible result for the Conservatives.

    If Labour does a deal with the Lib Dems – it would be a match made in hell, one that would be sure to end in the divorce courts – it’s a prospect Nick Clegg must dread. How could he bolster up Gordon Brown, or coronate Mr Milliband , a man who hasn't been through the mangle of the “Leaders debates” and claim that this is new politics?

    I suppose that Mr Clegg would have to declare that he was shoring Labour up to get through PR. I’m not too concerned about this they will need to put a new proposed system into a referendum and that’s a gamble.

    I don’t think that the referendum would get the result they need. More so when the public see the unsightly union taking place

    Then there’s the economy, the markets will in due course deliver their verdicts and spending cuts will need to be identified. Pressure will be on interest rates because of imported inflation and the government will be forced to pay more for their borrowing.

    Maybe that’s the best time for the Conservative’s to come to power; maybe their remedies to deal with the economy will be accepted.

    Best of luck to you tomorrow.

  21. Alan Wheatley
    May 5, 2010

    I am uncomfortable with the notion of "voting for a hung parliament". There is no such option on the ballot paper.

    If people vote such as they think it will bring about a hung parliament then the whole political system, including the electorate, is in a mess.

    1. waramess
      May 6, 2010

      I believe it will mean that the entire political system is a fraud perpetrated by the three main parties.

      At this late stage they are unwilling to share with us the extent of the cuts or how they propose implementing them.

      Nothing short of a shamefull, but then politicians have by now got used to handling such matters without blushing.

  22. Michael Lewis
    May 5, 2010

    You have to laugh at Peter Hain's remarks. I remember being at the Gnoll once to watch Neath RFC play, I was almost blinded by a bright orange light that appeared in the corner of my vision. Speaking of bright orange lights, Tony Bliar has been putting in an appearance – if that doesn't help swing it for DC, nothing will.

  23. Derek Buxton
    May 5, 2010

    Yes, good luck for the morrow to you.
    I have to say the "conservative" party appear to have grabbed defeat, or near enough, out of what should have been a certainty. They should have been in an impregnable position from the start with 50% of the vote heading their way, instead they are 5 or 8% ahead which under the skewed system leaves them struggling. Whilst this needs to be addressed, PR is not the answer, just a levelling of the playing field.
    I also believe that too many people, I am one such, feel that there is little to choose between Lib/Lab/Con whilst Cameron is in charge. He sometimes talks tough, to those he doesn't like for example the English who dare to criticise his actions or the candidate who got fired for saying that homosexuality was not normal, and that is all he said. But his real enemies, Brown, Blair, Clarke, he dare not say "boo" to. This is the man who led a standing ovation to Blair for goodness sake.
    As for his "green" attitude, the less said about the the better, it is a scam simply to rob the poor to make the rich richer. Oh yes, it is too expensive and we are broke.

  24. Javelin
    May 5, 2010

    It is interesting to speculate what will happen if the polls are correct and Conservative get the most votes and most seats, but not a majority.

    1) There will be a hung Parliament
    2) Brown will have a duty to remain Prime Minister
    3) Brown will go to Gus O'Donnell to facilitate negotiations
    4) Brown will negotiate with the Lib Dems
    5) The Lib Dems will demand PR and Clegg as Deputy PM
    6) Brown will agree and go to the Queen
    7) Queen will ascent
    8) At any time Lib Dems can force an election

    At the same time …

    1) The bond markets will drop alot then bounce back a bit
    2) FX rates will rise and Fwd Interest rates will rise
    3) Brown will hold a post election budget
    4) The Lib Dems will decide whether to support the budget
    5) Brown will blame the markets and regulate the banks
    6) The markets will fall further
    7) The next Gilt auction will raise mortgage rates
    8) Lib Dems will wait until a PR referendum goes through

    So I reckon that the crucial thing, if things stay as they are, is whether the Lib Dems can get a PR referendum through before the IMF get called in.

    1. James Clover
      May 5, 2010

      If there is some sort of Lib/Lab marriage, I rather doubt much will be done to solve the Debt problem. There'll be alot of waiting for the economy to recover and crossing of fingers and stealth cuts in the classic Brownian way until it all implodes horribly,

  25. john c
    May 5, 2010

    A lib-lab government would own the pain. Cameron could be replaced with someone effective. This election – like 92 – is the one to lose.

    1. waramess
      May 6, 2010


  26. pipesmoker
    May 5, 2010

    No promise on a referendum for continued membership of the EU. No vote. Sorry John you have done you best but it isn't enough.

  27. Mike Stallard
    May 5, 2010

    When the American Constitution was being promulgated, government by the people, for the people was just "self evident". Rousseau assumed that the general will cannot be wrong.
    Nowadays, we know better. The general will can be and often is very wrong.
    Rhodesia (Is Zim really morally or economically right)?
    Ugandan independence? (Idi Amin?)
    Nelson Mandela in South Africa? (leading to ANC one party rule and white flight?)
    Weimar (Proportional Representation leading to Hitler)?
    1970s Britain (I taught the magnificent rise of the TU movement for GCE in those days)?
    The huge question (as we face the reining in of the Welfare State) will be decided tomorrow: are we, the Great British People, able to face cuts in our self righteous greed?
    Yes, and that includes me too.
    You have shown us several ways in which we can.
    The only question is this: can we take the discipline?
    We'll see on Friday.

  28. gac
    May 5, 2010

    Most of those who tomorrow will vote Labour or LibDem (or have already done so via post) have no concept of just how swingeing the spending cuts will have to be to get back into balance. They have been seduced by the talk of ongoing investment in the front end services paid for by a magic potion called growth (= no pain) or the freedom from tax on the first £10,000 of income paid for by taxing more heavily on income over £100,000 and taking away some of the tax relief on pension contributions (= no pain).

    Thank you for this blog site John and if The Conservatives do manage to get an overall majority I hope Mr Cameron has the good sense to give you a Cabinet Post and a prominent Ministry.

  29. Kevin Peat
    May 5, 2010

    I can't bring myself to vote (the last time I voted was for Major – reluctantly.) I feel that a vote for the Conservatives would be seen as an endorsement for further EU integration.

    Whichever way it goes we get further EU integration – some parties more than others admittedly.

    I feel that EU membership combined with welfarism has done for Britain. Economic meltdown would, at least, take one of those factors out of the equation and then we'd have to face up to our social ills sooner rather than later whilst the balance in numbers between those with traditional values and those without is still in our favour. There isn't much time. It's not just about the economy, you know – and Mr Cameron shows no sense of urgency in matters which are keeping people awake at night so even if he does win I wouldn't expect to see results any time soon.

    We could do with simply being unable to afford many of the things which run counter to our natural sense of justice.

    The cost of allowing the integrity of Parliament and the civil service to take second place to the careers of thieves and the ambitions of liars has wreaked incalculable damage on us – possibly to the future of Britain herself.

    Reply: I can't see that a vote for Conservatives is a vote for more EU integration – just look at the manifesto: it's a vote to start going in the opposite direction.

    1. Kevin Peat
      May 5, 2010

      Pardon me if I remain sceptical. If you win power we shall see soon enough what the manifesto promises are worth.

      In the meantime the EU membership 'debate' (as if there ever was one) is rather like the Three Bears catching Goldilocks red handed. While they argue between themselves as to whether or not she should be eating their porridge …she continues to eat their porridge !

      This is a matter of urgency. If your party is serious about it then all EU interference in our affairs should be suspended forthwith until the people have had their referendum. Otherwise what is on offer in the manifesto is a mere sop to your lost voters.

  30. APL
    May 5, 2010

    JR: "I can’t see that a vote for Conservatives is a vote for more EU integration .."

    I would love to vote for a resoundingly EUro skeptic Tory party, I very much regret that I do not believe such a party exists. No one regrets that more than I do.

    In any event, I would like to wish you all the best tomorrow, you run a exceptional blog, your tolerance is admirable and much appreciated.

    Best regards

  31. alan jutson
    May 5, 2010


    Just a few lines to say thank you for your very informative Blog site, and especially for keeping it live during the election campaign.

    Good luck for tomorrow, hope all goes as you wish.

  32. Jonathan Tee
    May 5, 2010

    Why is a Lib-Con coalition inconceivable? I don't understand why Lib-Lab is considered so plausible but Lib-Con not?

    Its not as if the Conservatives and the Liberals are like oil and water. After all in the 80s the Conservatives were pursuing a good old fashioned liberal economic policy, and pre-war the Conservatives not only formed coalitions with the Liberals, but actually merged with part of the Liberal party (and made a very successful Liberal politician leader of the Conservative party for that matter).

    Reply: there are big difference over EU integration, the Euro, immigration, the size of the state etc

  33. Kevin Peat
    May 5, 2010

    "In the meantime the EU membership ‘debate’ (as if there ever was one)…"

    Cross party debate, for clarification. I know that the Tories have been torn on the issue – this has been such a shame. (sincerely)

  34. Peter van Leeuwen
    May 5, 2010

    Do British people realise that during all the Thatcher, Blair and Brown years, they have NOT had a government which was supported by a majority of the voters? Governments with a majority in parliament never reflected a majority of the UK population.

    A government which does not reflect the will of the majority should not be called a 21st century democracy. Two parties playing ping-pong is something different.

    So let's hope for a balanced parliament on Thursday, and the courage among politicians to use this for lasting improvement of the UK democracy by means of electoral reform.

  35. Robert George
    May 6, 2010

    I despise many of the policy compromises Cameron has taken. I would advocate much tougher economic and " statist" reductions, but unfortunately the conservatives are the best worst alternative. Therefore I have voted Tory and will grit my teeth when they fail to make the hard decisions.

    Because the alternative is much worse.

  36. adam
    May 6, 2010

    Will the British Conservative party renounce any of Slavoj Zizek's ideas,?(This thinker-ed) seems to be agreeing with your citizenship volunteerism agenda, and he says, its part of a new worldwide communist police state.
    Now who would have thought. I guess not Tory MPs

    “One thing is clear: national sovereignty will have to be redefined and new levels of global co-operation invented. And what about the immense changes to economies and consumption levels demanded and brought about by new weather patterns or shortages of water and energy sources? How will such changes be decided and executed?
    It is instructive, here, to return to the four elements of what the French Marxist philosopher Alain Badiou calls the “eternal idea” of revolutionary politics.

    What is demanded, first, is strict egalitarian justice: worldwide norms of per capita energy consumption should be imposed, stopping developed nations from poisoning the environment at the present rate while blaming developing countries, from Brazil to China, for ruining our shared environment.

    Second, terror: the ruthless punishment of all those who violate the imposed protective measures, including severe limitations of liberal “freedoms” and the technological control of prospective lawbreakers.

    Third, voluntarism: the only way to confront the threat of ecological catastrophe is by means of collective decision-making that will arrest the “spontaneous” logic of capitalist development (Walter Benjamin, in his essay “On the Concept of History”, pointed out that the task of a revolution is to “stop the train” of history that runs towards the precipice of global catastrophe – an insight that has gained new weight with the prospect of ecological catastrophe).

    Last but not least, trust in the people: the wager that the large majority of the people support these severe measures, see them as their own and are ready to participate in their enforcement. We should not be afraid to encourage, as a combination of terror and trust in the people, the resurgence of an important figure in all egalitarian-revolutionary terror – the “informer” who denounces culprits to the authorities. (In the case of the Enron scandal, Time magazine was right to celebrate the insiders who tipped off the financial authorities as true public heroes.)

    Once upon a time, we called this communism."

  37. cheap ghd
    May 7, 2010

    Finally, in spite of my many disagreements with your policies, I wish you personally luck in tomorrow’s election. You state your views clearly, using logic, and you treat your opponents with courtesy. There are too few people like you in current UK politics.

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