Is 2015 the year the UK becomes Belgium?

Is 2015 the year the UK becomes Belgium?

Is a Grand Coalition the only viable government after the election?

Whilst fans of Poirot, TinTin, and the D’Hondt electoral voting system might seem some advantages of the UK becoming more like Belgium, I’m coming to the conclusion that we might not have a viable government possible, particularly if the SNP surge translates into the seat numbers the recent Scottish polling implies.

In 2010, it took less than a week for the Con/Lib Dem coalition to be formed, in Belgium following no party obtaining a majority after their general election, it took 541 days  (five hundred and forty-one days) for a government to be formed, as the Belgians were left without an elected government, for in total, five hundred and eighty-nine days.

As the fixed term parliament makes a second election very unlikely, and repealing it wouldn’t be easy, so we’d be stuck with the result we got on May the 7th for the foreseeable future.

As Antifrank predicted last month, Her Majesty is trying not to get involved with the formation of the government, today’s Sunday Times reports

OFFICIALS at Buckingham Palace are warning that the Queen must not be dragged into political wrangling after the general election amid fears that David Cameron or Ed Miliband might attempt to use her as a “prop” to “legitimise” a government that lacks a majority.

Sources close to the royal household said last night that neither leader should approach the Queen to form a government until they are sure they can command the confidence of the House of Commons.

With a hung parliament on the cards, courtiers are concerned that either leader could ambush the Queen with an attempt to rule as a minority government and “borrow her support” to cement their claims to power…..

…Royal sources also said the Queen will not deliver a speech at the next state opening of parliament on May 27 if there is a hung parliament and there was a danger that it would not pass a parliamentary vote.

The royal source said: “One of the concerns that might be there is if the Queen’s speech became a mechanism for testing a particular prime minister’s control of the House [of Commons], you wouldn’t want the Queen to be politicised by giving that speech.”

Peter Riddell, director of the Institute for Government, said: “There is general agreement on all sides that the Queen should be detached from the process of government formation.

“She will receive information but will only be involved once the politicians have decided who the next government is going to be.”

Who can blame her, prior to the Fixed Term Parliament Act, the constitutional convention on the circumstances a Monarch could refuse a request from the Prime Minister for a new election was based on an anonymous letter written to the Times in the 1950s.

Just look at the above forecasts/nowcasts/predictions of the great and the good collated by May2015 or Peter Kellner’s latest forecast, a normal two party coalition might not be possible, and the more parties that join a coalition, I think that means a more unstable government. Or the worst of all worlds, a minority coalition government.

Given that according to some polls, the Lib Dems have misplaced nearly 80% of their voters since joining the coalition, some of the smaller parties may also fancy not participating in a coalition, to avoid as Chancellor Merkel’s maxim to David Cameron about coalitions “The little party always gets smashed!”, some parties might be actively trying to avoid a coalition, especially if their leader has just lost his seat.

Everyone says 326 is the magic number (or 323 allowing for Sinn Fein abstentions) But that assumes all the newly formed coalition MPs vote exactly with the government. History has shown all parties have their awkward squads who can almost certain be guaranteed to vote against their side, so a viable government might not be feasible on 326 seats or even 323.

Particularly if it features the SNP and Labour, with the SNP demanding this government adopt a Scotland First approach, which English (and Welsh) Labour MPs will know might not go down well with their electorate, for which there may be a price to pay for at a future General Election, especially with the anticipated shellacking of Labour in Scotland, no one will ever feel they are in a safe seat again.

On a more philosophical point, given their respective views of Scotland in the Union, a Lab/SNP coalition might not be possible as Labour don’t wish to put the Union at risk and the SNP’s demands are something that might put the Union at risk. If the SNP can’t and won’t go into coalition with either Labour or the Tories, then what?

In the background, last night, there was increasing fears of a Greek euro exit after IMF meeting.

In The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy it was said Belgium was the most offensive word in the universe, you get the feeling the electorate would view the UK having its own Belgium scenario as pretty offensive and disastrous, especially if we get Acropolis Now headlines and the economic disaster that is a Grexit and the UK didn’t have a government to deal with it. Some have said, a Grexit could see the UK’s GDP fall by up to 10%, to put that into context, the recession of 2008 saw the UK’s GDP fall by 7.2%.

The pressure on the politicians would be immense, as none of them would wish to be cast as a latter day Emperor Honorius, as the economic Visigoths of a Grexit sacked our economy.

The 2010 coalition worked because the numbers stacked up for the Tories and the Lib Dems, it may be in a little over two weeks, the only viable option is a Grand Coalition.

Under normal circumstances, both the Tories and Labour would rule out a grand coalition, outside of a major war, as both know it would lead to mass defections/resignations from their their (parliamentary) parties, as UKIP, the SNP and the Greens would say it shows the Tories and Labour are indistinguishable from each other.

But could these future events be describe as normal events?

At the time of writing, you can get 40/1 on a Con/Lab Grand coalition.


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