We have a hung parliament. Political commentators and politicians alike are making a lot of noise telling us that this means the British people have said this or that, or want this or want that. As Stephen Fry puts it, it is "the peculiar propensity of commentators to feel qualified to extrapolate from the election results the Manifest Will of Britain"
A lot of people voted. Each one voted for someone to represent them in parliament, yes, whether they thought that was what they were doing or not, that's what they did. 36% of them voted for a Conservative candidate, 29% voted Labour, 23% voted Liberal Democrat. If you're looking for the split on how people voted, then look no further.
Anyone who thinks that there is some kind of "voice" of the electorate needs to sit in a dark room for a bit. Clearly this country is divided into many voices, more even than those of our political parties, such that each party is really a coalition of views, some alike and some unalike.
In our system 'power' is distributed to political parties in the way of seats. In my view this is a failing of our system, but it's how it is right now, so we need to work with it. Most power has been given to the Conservative Party (306 seats), a bit less power has been given to Labour (258 seats), and somewhat less (57 seats) to the Liberal Democrats (and the others have 28 seats). These numbers do not represent any kind of moral or ethical value, they are just the result of the system, like a hand of cards. In some years the Conservative voting majority might have given them an overall lead in seats, but not this year. So we need people to be sensible and talk to each other and do what politicians do all the time: compromise.
Mathematically the most sensible option would be for Conservative and Labour to join forces, but their positions seem too far apart (at the moment) for this to happen. This means that the Liberal Democrats get to use their hand for the first time in many years. The fact that this is a rare event doesn't make it an invalid one. Our system is so skewed towards getting an outright majority from either Conservative or Labour that when a landslide doesn't happen we might fall into the trap of thinking that something is wrong.
Despite the pain involved to our political parties, it is a blessing that results like this one come along from time to time. I hope it will push us away from apathy and complacency and help people to reengage with politics.
Tuesday, 11 May 2010
Wednesday, 5 May 2010
If you haven't already voted postally, you might want to think about these reasons to vote Liberal Democrat:
- It's the economy: the Lib Dems have the best strategy for recovery and that's without the advantage of the knowledge you get from running it for the last 13 years.
- They were right about Iraq, and not afraid to say so. 1 million British people marched on London to try to stop the war in Iraq, and the only party that stood with them (as a whole, not just isolated individuals) was the Liberal Democrat Party.
- The Lib Dems stand for your freedom, this is why they oppose forcing us all to pay for ID cards, just so the government gets a big database with all our names on it. They have consistently opposed draconian legislation, believing that freedom is better.
- They were right about the banks. They were the only party warning about the issues in British banking long before the others noticed that we had a credit crunch on our hands.
- They believe in electoral reform - that means getting the representation in government that the british people deserve.
- If you're into science and technology or general geek endeavors, the Lib Dems are by far the most clued up: http://geekthevote.org.uk/
- Dare I say, Nick Clegg? After the way we were all let down by Tony Blair I could well regret putting him forward, but he seems like the real deal to me and I hope that on balance he will be.
- But most of all because you want to, and there's no reason to feel guilty about it
But whatever party (or independent candidate) you want to support, most of all, just get out and vote tomorrow - make your voice heard!
So what new and exciting things have happened in my life since being a Lib Dem party member?
- I had a visit from some local Lib Dems to welcome me to the fold (and see if I would give out some leaflets)
- I gave out the aforementioned leaflets (with much help from family)
- I now get emails from Paddy Ashdown, Nick Clegg and other people
Aside from this not much has changed, but that's probably all for the good. There are hints of parties (of the kind combining politics and a fun evening) at some point too.