For those of us living in Scotland, the current political shenanigans in London are more than a little puzzling. The Conservatives, under David Cameron, won the UK election with the largest number of seats. Surely, therefore, they should have taken over the reigns of power by now?
Instead, Gordon Brown is still at No 10, while the Conservatives discuss becoming a happy couple with the Lib Dems, having previously torn lumps out of their policies right up to Election Day on Thursday.
This whole paranoia about hung parliaments has been extraordinary for us to watch.
It seems quite clear that many in the electorate wanted a hung parliament. They wanted the election winner to be in a position where they:
- had to moderate their more extreme policies
- and had to work to create a consensus to get their legislation passed.
That’s precisely the situation the Scottish Parliament has been in since the last election here. The SNP have most seats (just as the Conservatives do across the UK), but they do not have an overall majority.
Alex Salmond and his SNP cabinet have therefore had to build a consensus issue-by-issue to progress their business.
- Has it brought the Scottish parliament to its knees? Not at all.
- Has it stagnated parliamentary business? No.
- Has it meant the SNP has had its own way in the parilament? No.
- Has it meant the SNP hqas had to moderate some of its policies? Yes.
Against that background it is baffling why the Conservatives apparently have to create an overall majority by doing a deal with their arch-enemies.
Even more baffling that some commentators seem to suggest that a “rainbow” coalition of the minorities (Labour, Liberal and others) might be the answer.
Sure, that might be a more popular solution in Scotland, where the Conservatives would always be challenged over their right to govern for Scotland when they could only muster enough Scottish support for one MP on Thursday.
But we want a decisive team in charge of the country. So, would the winners of the election please stop dithering and get on with the job of government.... even if it is with a minority.
- Footnote: Yes, I am aware that – despite the presidential-style debates – we do not elect a Prime Minister. We elect a government, who then elect a Prime Minister. But the outcome is, usually, very much the same.