Tuesday, 20 April 2010

A good election to lose?

Posted on This is My Truth on 20 April

The historian Norman Stone has set the hare running with a piece in tonight’s Evening Standard. The High Tory thinks Cameron’s Conservative Party is so limp, or ‘Dianafied’ as he puts it, that he would rather keep them in Opposition and let a new Lib-Lab coalition take the responsibility for the ‘quite bad’ storm that is about to hit us.

‘Cobblers’ cries Iain Dale in return:

If the Tories lose this election to a Lib/Lab coalition, the first thing a new government would do is to introduce PR. Not just AV, but full STV. Clegg would demand it and Brown would have to agree. And if that happened the British people can look forward to a semi permanent left of centre government.

Similarly I’ve heard the view expressed on the left that David Cameron’s policy of cutting the number of MPs by 10% would result in redrawn constituency boundaries that would favour the Tories and rule out a Labour Government for a generation.

After the 1992 General Election anonymous Government Ministers were quoted as saying that it would have been better had they lost and let Neil Kinnock face the ERM meltdown. And detached observers are saying similar things about this election.

But despite the intense economic and social pressures that the next Government will face tribal instincts on both sides run so deep that they find it impossible to take such a detached view.

The current opinion polls beggar belief. Never underestimate the common sense of the public it is often said. And though I can understand the desire for a ‘balanced’ Parliament, I can’t help but feel that what’s about to hit is us going to be so destabilising that a stable Government is essential to withstand it.

Of course, as coalitions in the National Assembly demonstrate, stability is not always synonymous with one party rule. Stable Governments can be forged from cross-party co-operation. But whether they’ll have the authority to re-write the rules of the game is yet to be determined.

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