Broken government: where next?

Millie Kidson asks on her blog where we will go when the coallition government ends. (Suggested reading before you continue here.)

This question has been perplexing me too. I was a member of the Liberal Democrat party for a few years and I had intended not only to get involved in the local party, but also potentially to stand for election at some later date. That isn’t going to happen with the LibDems now. The LibDems were never really a good fit for me anyway, my membership was a compromise since I fit in to that lower left square on the Political Compass that no party except the Greens seem anywhere near.

I dislike the party whip system where legislation is decided strictly on party lines. I dislike having one party in a majority that can force through stupid law after stupid law. What I would like is a parliament where new legislation has to convince a majority of MPs, not a party leader. Basically, I want a hung parliament. Forever. A lot less legislation would make it through but what little did emerge ought to be good because it has won the support of a majority of MPs. Many will argue that this would cripple the government but I don’t think so. I think it would force MPs to come up with decent laws instead of knee jerk reactions.

The ideal situation as far as I am concerned is for Proportional Representation to be brought in and for government to be composed of a variety of different party and independant MPs to produce the situation that I described above. Unfortunately that isn’t going to happen. What we are being offered is AV which is a poor relation to PR, although better than First Past the Post which is what we have at the moment. With AV the makeup of parliament will change slightly, but not that much. I think if the coallition were to fail and an election be held now or even after AV, it would be a straight fight between Labour and the Conservatives. The LibDems have squandered their support and won’t be back for a long time. I couldn’t in a million years bring myself to vote Conservative, so I guess we’re left with Labour or Green.

I think I would quite like to support the Green party, their policies on social responsibility and on spending are quite in line with mine. (See the Political Compass again to see where you stand.) but just like the LibDems in the past, they lack the critical amount of support to give even a possibility of getting into power, and so people stay away from them. The traditional “wasted vote.”

So where can those that want caring social policies, help for those that need it, support from the rich and the big business, go? I predict that the bulk of the anti-cuts movement will never vote Conservative, will never forgive the LibDems, and most will not think that the Greens have a chance, so they won’t have. Most are likely to vote for Labour or not vote at all. I think that’s a shame. We need to fight for full Proportional Representation, and then we need a complete mix up of views in power to provide us with a balanced and rational government.

Author: Latentexistence

The world is broken and I can't fix it because I am broken. I can, however, rant about it all and this is where I do that when I can get my thoughts together. Most of the time you'll find my words on Twitter rather than here though. I sometimes write for Where's The Benefit too.

6 thoughts on “Broken government: where next?”

  1. I agree with most of that.

    It’s obvious that people would desert the LibDems, but I think it’s an unthinking decision. The problem is that the LibDems have 15% of the votes in the coalition, so couldn’t keep all their promises. The solution people have chosen: give the LibDems even less power.

    Interesting that so many people are flocking back to Labour. They had complete control for 13 years and broke Britain. 8 months later people are begging for their return.

    I think people who believe the country would be better now with a crippled minority Tory government or a Labour government are deluding themselves. Look at Greece in 2010 or the UK in 1978.

    What we’re heading for now with people fleeing to the Left and Right is even more scary. That’s US-style politics, so I for one hope the coalition holds. Because I fear only PR can pull people back to the centre ground, and no one is going to give it to us – so the coalition is the most sane, centrist option you have.

    1. There seems to be two issues at work here.
      The first is that supporters are easily offended, but not easily won. Once a party is seen to betray its supporters, that’s it for them.
      The second issue is that of the classic two party system. People would like to support a smaller party that is closer to their opinions, but dare not because they prefer one of the two main parties over the other. In the current situation, I suspect a huge portion of the anti-cuts protesters are closer to the Green party than anything else, but will never support them because they don’t want to allow a Conservative government.

  2. I 100% agree with this particularly: “I dislike having one party in a majority that can force through stupid law after stupid law”. An example from the last government of legislation which should never have been passed is ID cards.

    I think the problem with the current system is that it polarises the ideas, so if you’re (for example) Tory you can never agree with Labour policies, even if they might actually work. I honestly think it would be better for the country if there were no such thing as political parties, so that each idea would succeed or fail on its own merit, rather than a political party trying to push its own ideas through.

    Whether that would work practically I don’t know, but it seems we couldn’t do much worse than our current system.

  3. A few thoughts here.

    First, the Libdems will rebound somewhat closer to the election. I’d say to about 15%. Higher if Tory plans pay off and they’re able to offer them some last minute sweeteners. So don’t count them out as yet.

    Second, the Greens may be a ‘wasted vote’ – but many ppl thought so were the Libdems. They might get to a stage where they’re not ‘wasted’ one day, as in Germany.

    Third, agree on PR somewhat. Most people don’t want to break the constituency link – so you’re essentially looking at STV or AV+ as an end goal.

    I don’t agree with: “I think [PR] would force MPs to come up with decent laws instead of knee jerk reactions.”

    Doubt it – a lot of stupid decisions still command mass public support, for example the ban on drugs…. and in 2003 a majority of MPs voted for the Iraq war – only Libdems didn’t. Think you’re making a big presumption here.

    I also wrote about the need for discipline in parties here:


    In theory the party whip sounds like a terrible idea, but it also has benefits.

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