Hung Parliament?

In the Spectator, Alastair Heath voices his horror at the prospect of a hung parliament. (For non-Brits, that’s one in which no single party has a majority of seats – no jokes about members, please). His post is titled “Britain on the brink” and includes this:

It is a calculation that should fill all of us with an immense sense of dread: there is now a 72.2 percent chance of a hung parliament. Or so says Michael Saunders, Citigroup’s chief European economist and the one man in the City everybody listens to when it comes to the interaction between parliamentary politics and the financial markets. His model, which incorporates the standard data about the Westminster first-past-the post system, and into which he has fed all of the latest polls, also suggests that there is just a 6.2 percent chance of strong Tory majority, a 19.1 percent chance of a weak one and 2.5 percent chance of a Labour majority. Given the terrible state of our public finances, and Britain’s desperate need for a strong government with a clear commitment to fiscal reform, all of this is little short of disastrous.

I’m exasperated at the framing of a parliament with no dominant party as “hung”. Our electoral system has constantly allowed parties without any natural majority in the country to govern as if they do. If the electorate is genuinely divided, then let parliament reflect that and deal with it.

And I’m wary of this use of the word “strong ” to define the sort of government we should have. Does that mean strong as in: strong enough to drag us into crazy foreign adventures we later deeply regret? or strong enough to have created the economic hole in which we now apparently find ourselves? Sounds like “strong” just means “unhibited”.

And while I’m on the soapbox, are we seriously going to allow the folks in the City to guide us on what’s economically best for us?

2 thoughts on “Hung Parliament?

  1. tony

    Just because you have a hung parliament doesn’t mean that it can’t be “strong”. Many of our European cousins mange quiet well (ie Germany & Sweden). As long as you plan for the eventuality and treat it like any other government and just get on with it (as the public voted for), possibly for a fixed term, we can still have a “strong” government.

    A group of influential individuals have created a group called charter 2010 (www.charter2010.co.uk) to promote that a hung parliament can work for us if we go into it the right way.

    Reply

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