Fact is, Everyone has slightly underperformed. There has been a substantial swing to the Conservatives, especially in England, but with a very erratic granularity. Turnout was very slightly up, by 4%, but from one of the lowest ever. Time to consider internet voting?
So the options to ponder over the cornflakes in eight hours’ time are rather fascinating.
I think I bet on the power of inertia to produce a minority administration, elected on a slogan of “time for change!”— not quite, morally, what Michael Gove calls a “strong, stable, Conservative-led government.” Perhaps this would be followed by another election before five years are up. However there is no necessity for this. Constitutionally, Gordon Brown could do what Ted Heath did in 1974, and try to form an alliance with Liberal Democrats.
How Democratic is all this? A minority government could not, morally, be presented as the will of the people. Indeed UK minority governments have not been particularly strong. It’s actually the will of 38% of 62% = 24% of the voters. More people didn’t vote at all than voted for anyone. And, actually, far more people voted for second and third parties than for the winning party. This leaves two options for the future, and it will be interesting to see what our politicians can get their heads round, or not:
- Some people may say “38% of the votes — you deserve 38% of the power. If you want more power, get more votes.” There’s nothing undemocratic about such a notion; indeed it would be the European norm.
- But politicians, esoecially those from the largest party, do have the option of saying “38% of the votes, so, in our elective dictatorship, we get 100% of the power, and everyone else gets another pop at it in 5 years time.” Eyes down, lads, for a full house.