openDemocracyUK

UK Election: This is not 1974, what hung then isn't hanging now

Anthony Barnett
Anthony Barnett
26 April 2010

Alex Massie has written an exemplary instant rebuttal of the Conservative Party briefing paper warning against a hung parliament. Remarkable because it is set out in his Spectator blog and he wants David Cameron to be Prime Minister. I love it when supporters set out a clear case of why their side has got something wrong. It is just the kind of intelligent independence we need:

Some choice quotes:

"A hung election might not be ideal but it might also be a fitting end to this exhausted, depressing parliament. But it need not be the disaster the Tories claim. The PDF they released today - and the advert - is thin gruel. Essentially they argue that 1974 was a disaster and this proves that hung parliaments are and always must be a terrible thing....

This is not 1974.... a coalition might actually, if organised properly, find it easier to tackle the deficit and national debt than might a Tory party that commanded a single-digit majority.

... the idea that the governance of Germany has made the country impossible to govern these past five decades is, well, eccentric.

... systems matter but not as much as outcomes. And good 'mainstream' politicians will probably thrive regardless of the system. There is no perfect system...  just because hung parliaments and/or proportional representation can lead to messy, weak government in which everything is always up for grabs does not mean that this has to be the case. Indeed one could argue the point the other way: the supposed instability of coalition government may make prudent government more, not less, probable. At the very least it may also protect one from parliamentary dictatorship."

These are just some nuggets from a detailed, authorative post with a welcome wealth of international examples and counter-examples. Well worth a full read.

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