Bell Curve The Law Talking Guy Raised by Republicans U.S. West
Well, he's kind of had it in for me ever since I accidentally ran over his dog. Actually, replace "accidentally" with "repeatedly," and replace "dog" with "son."

Friday, May 07, 2010

UK Elections Results

OK, so the results are coming in now. It looks like that after all the hype abou the rise of the Lib Dems they fizzled. With 648 of 650 constituencies reporting, the Lib Dems increased their vote share slightly but have actually come in with 5 fewer seats than before. Conservative: 305, Labour: 258, Liberal Demcorats 57, (see BBC link for smaller parties and updates).

In general this is a rough day for Labour. They took a real pasting. But the Conservatives are far short of what they need to form a single party majority government. At the time of this posting, they are way below the 326 seats make a majority. The Liberal Democrats do have enough seats to get the Torries up over 326. But given the dissapointing performance for the Lib Dems, they are unlikely to want to force a new election soon (the ultimate threat that would back up their negotiating position in a coalition).

On the other side, if all the even marginally left of center parties formed a coalition lead by Labour, they could get up to 329 seats. That would be Labour, Liberal Democrats, SNP, Plaid Cymru, Social Democratic and Labour (N. Ireland, mainly Irish Catholics who are more moderate than Sinn Fein), Greens (yes they won a seat), and Alliance Party. But this is unwieldy to put it mildly. It would also be unseemly. British voters clearly spoke out against Labour. Labour lost 91 seats (at the time of this posting). It's a possible outcome but I wouldn't bet the farm on it.

At this point, I'm betting that the Torries will form a minority government alone and dare the Liberal Democrats to force a new election by helping defeat a vote of confidence. In any case, I'm also betting the UK will have another election sooner rather than later (possibly before the end of the year). As I update this (at about 11am EST), there are reports that Cameron, the Tory leader, has made some sort of vague overtures to the Liberal Democrats that stop short of an open offer of cabinet positions in a coalition government.

This is probably the official end of Gordon Brown's political career (the de facto end came when Tony Blair left him with a tarnished Labour legacy and weakening political position back in 2007). Now begins the factional infighting within Labour over who will take over the leadership.


The Law Talking Guy said...

Lots of craziness in the UK election.

Four comments.
1. Sinn Fein never takes its seats, making the necessary votes to govern 323, not 326. OTOH, I am guessing there is exactly one scenario in which Sinn Fein would come to Westminster to sit down, and that is to prevent a UK government from working at all.
2. Conservatives have already reached out to LibDems. This is obviously the only coalition guaranteed to work AND it appears to be truly representative of what the country wants.
3. It appears that in the UK system, the Tories don't really have the ability to declare a minority government alone. According to the BBC, the Queen is not required to offer the "Queen's Speech" to the first person who comes calling unless that person commands a majority in parliament. The Queen invites the MP to become PM - one does not simply claim the title. This isn't so much the Queen exercising power, which she would be loath to do, as the Queen playing her appointed role of enforcing the (unwritten) constitutional standard of majority rule.
4. The Libdems may not be as scared of a new election as you might think. The results show that 23% of the public voted for them, a sharp turndown from polls a few days ago. This suggests that what happened was that people inclined to vote LibDem declined to do so when Clegg began flirting with either coaltion and the uninformed voter began thinking, "If the choice is between Labour or Tories, why should Mr. Clegg make that decision - I'll make the decision." LibDems could do better in a new election if they can present themselves as a real alternative potential government leader. If both Labour and Conservatives fail to form a government, this leaves some opening for LibDems to say: let's vote again and give US a try. That's what I would threaten, at least, if I were Clegg. I'd start saying it right now.

Raised By Republicans said...

I think your point 4 is based on a rather complicated logic that I'm sure was a motive for some voters but I doubt would be observable on the scale required to explain the Lib Dem fizzle (in both seats and votes).

An alternative explanation: It is also true that the Lib Dems advocate some pretty unpopular positions: British entry into the Euro and liberal attitudes towards immigration are two that have particular currency now.

RE: Point 3. What are you suggesting will happen? If not a Conservative government - what then?

The way it would work would be the Queen invites Cameron to form a government. At that point, it's up to him to garner the votes to support "the Queen's Letter." Presumably the Queen wouldn't initiate the process until it were clear the votes would be there. So that brings us to what Cameron would need to offer to get those extra votes.

You seem to be suggesting that he will be forced to offer cabinet positions. That may prove correct. But I think its less likely than the scenario I laid out - in which the Conservatives simply win a game of electoral chicken with the Lib Dems.

The Law Talking Guy said...

If Cameron doesn't have the ability to just claim a minority government without some other support, it makes the chicken scenario impossible, doesn't it? LD would either have to make an agreement or new elections would simply follow, which caretaker PM Brown would request and get.

I'm also not sure who stands to lose more. The risk that Labour/LD could get more seats in a new election is pretty big. Conservatives need 20 more seats. Ireland. Labour/LD need only 10 more if you count the 1 green party member. A swing of 9 seats to Labour/LD is probably a matter of a handful of votes in marginal districts. If LD had not lost net 5 seats (to Tories) they would be only 4 or 5 seats away.

Also, a new election, if it denied Tories a majority or they lost a seat or two from the present result, would make a Lib/Lab coalition appear more legitimate in voters' eyes.

I do think Cameron is acting out of more weakness than might be supposed. He knows that if he gives LD a legitimate reason to bolt, they may team up with Labour (with a new non-Gordon PM?), the Greens, the SDL party (3 more votes) the greens (1 more vote) and be then only 6 votes away. All of which could come from the SNP on an issue-by-issue basis, ignoring the Plaid Cymru for the moment. You better bet that SNP and Plaid Cymru would vote for PR!

By contrast, even with 9 from Unionist parties and 9 from SNP/PC on issue-b-issue basis, Conservatives are still a couple votes shy.