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Election night — my predictions and preferences

In Uncategorized on May 7, 2010 at 12:35 am

David Weber

Election 2010

Ok, so maybe the Liberal Democrats aren’t going to do so well after all. I’m cheating somewhat, blogging this after the exit polls came out. Unlike Stephen, who was principled and made a genuine prediction, this will be odds-on, I reckon. That said, I suspect the Exit polls might not be as good as they were back in 2005, as this election is closer.

It’s a pity, as it suggests that many people who declared support for the Lib Dems in the polls prior to the election were jumping on a popularity bandwagon. Still, there’s always the chance that the Lib Dems will lose seats whilst increasing their vote, which would support their views on the voting system.

My preferences? I disagree strongly with Stephen that a coalition with the nationalists would be a good idea, particularly one which kept the Labour party in power. I see no reason why the SNP would become more moderate through having a greater voice in UK government, particularly considering their behaviour the last time this happened. They are also more anti-Labour than that time around. I also dislike the idea of Labour gaining a fourth term in government after their actions in the third one, particularly their assault on civil liberties, and their callous disregard for voters not important to them — often the poor.

This said, I voted for the Liberal Democrats, and if Labour did gain a greater share of the votes and seats than the Conservatives I would be happy to see them form a government with the support of this party. I don’t think this is likely, however, but furthermore, I don’t think it is desirable.

Therefore there are only two further options. The first is a Tory-Liberal coalition. I think this is unlikely; firstly, the Tories are unlikely to give way over electoral reform, secondly, they have pitched their campaign too far from the Liberal Democrats’, making compromise very difficult to find. The second is a minority Tory government with Liberal scrutiny. This is not the nightmare scenario many imagine; it could be remarkably similar to the way the SNP have governed in Scotland for the last few years. Furthermore, it would be simpler, with less accusations of back-room deals, and with a Liberal Democrat party able to veto the more ridiculous parts of the Tory programme (such as the Inheritance tax cut).

I am also reluctant to see the Liberal Democrats in government, mainly because of the outside chance that they might get education. This would, ironically, be the most serious threat to religious liberty that the election could provide. Their policies on the curriculum are a big blind-spot, which mistake prescription of views for liberalism, and are about teaching people what to think rather than how to think. Therefore my preference would be, incredibly reluctantly, for a Tory minority government held rigorously to account by a Labour and Liberal Democrat opposition.

The Liberal Democrats deserve electoral reform. Even AV, which would retain the two-party grip, would be fairer to them, and even make it marginally possible for them to overtake Labour in seats as well as the vote. Their policies in many areas, such as civil liberties, Education funding, Local government and parliamentary reform are the best of any party’s. But the party, though very much improved and responsible, is still a big risk in certain areas, and does not deserve to be trusted with single-party power. Therefore my incredibly reluctant, not to mention marginally decided preference would be for a minority Conservative government, which has made it very difficult to decide who to vote for. However, with an eye on the polls, and on the safeness of my seat (which the MP is in some ways taking for granted), I gave my support to the Liberal Democrats. If by an outside chance they still end up in government, it won’t be disastrous for the country. It could even be the best result. I’m not dogmatic about this (I hope!)

  1. So now the dust has settled – and the thing you thought very unlikely has come to pass (the peril of predictions!) what do you think?

    • I’m generally quite pleased! I never expected a coalition agreement to be quite so comprehensive, and I think it’s improved both the parties’ approaches to policy quite well. My main worry, which resulted in something of a burst of scepticism against the Liberal Democrats in the days before the election, was over their education policies, which as far as I can see are not the area they will be having greatest influence over. Their best idea, the pupil premium, was in any case something of an agreed policy with the Conservatives before the election, and it looks like they won’t be dictating tuition fees policy, which is good, as theirs was rubbish.

      I have doubts over the coalition, of course, and I’m a bit worried about the fact that’s emerging that Cable won’t be co-chairing the committee on banking reform. But I was very surprised to see the Conservatives so committed to a comprehensive coalition deal, and the Liberal Democrats’ so much in favour as well, and it just goes to show how pointless predictions actually are!

  2. Just had to ‘moderate’ my own comment. Isn’t wordpress wonderful…

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