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