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Oh, god — do I have to?

This is so unfair. I get to be depressed by politics in TWO countries!

Okay, here’s what happened: David Cameron’s party won more votes than the others — by a lot — but the next two main parties combined have more seats than he does. And they’re both leftist parties.

There was talk about the two leftist parties joining forces to shut Cameron out of government. Under their system, it might just be possible. Politically, it’s a natural. But, as so often happens with internecine fights, there’s mucho personal and historical animosity between the two. So that fell apart.

Cameron could have just said screw it and formed a government, which is what the righties in his party wanted him to do. Yes, there are still real, honest-to-god righties in the Tory party. The danger is that the other parties, because they outnumber him, could force another election any time they wanted.

Both Labour and the LibDems are likely to do even worse if another election were held soon. I doubt either wants another shot at it until they can do some housecleaning. A bold leader would take that gamble.

But Cameron didn’t.

He decided to form a true majority by making a pact with the further left of the two parties he beat. The one that did really badly. Much worse than expected. Won almost no seats at all.

And by “pact” — well, nobody really knows yet. He has to bring up some of their pet issues. Let some of them onto his cabinet. Maybe even make the leader his Deputy Prime Minister. This from a party whose agenda was just soundly rejected by the electorate.

And all this could’ve been avoided if he had been willing to talk to the party to the right of him. All he had to do was make some noises about immigration and Europe. Analysis of seat-by-seat results show if UKIP’s votes had gone Tory, he would have had 20 to 40 more seats. A comfortable ruling majority.

But no. Years ago, Cameron publicly labeled those nice old biddies a bunch of ‘fruit cakes and loonies and closet racists.’ Now the Tories are really flexed that they didn’t get the fruitcake-loony-racist vote and thinks it should be really, really ashamed of itself.

And if this whole rickety Rube Goldbergian contraption starts to burn oil, there could still be a new election called at any time.

Okay, I think I’m going to have to put this in terms of a really fucked-up alternate reality hypothetical.

Imagine it’s now in the United States, with everybody all wadded up about the collapsing economy and falling jobs and immigration. And by some sadistic twist of fate John McCain — no, Lindsey Graham has just been elected president. But it was a real squeaker because — well, Lindsey Graham. So he takes totally the wrong message from his narrow win and decides to move left and make Nancy Pelosi his Vice President. And give her a veto over anything he proposes. And if he pisses her off, she can throw the election out and make us do it again.

That’s kind of where we be at here.

I have seen the happy place, and this isn’t it.


Comment from Nina from GCP
Time: May 11, 2010, 10:07 pm

There’s plenty of OUCH to go around, Stoaty.

Way too much, actually.

Comment from EZnSF
Time: May 11, 2010, 10:09 pm

Graham and Pelosi?

Truly, I would join a militia.

I’ve been avoiding reading about the UK election.
It gives me a headache.

Comment from Gromulin
Time: May 11, 2010, 10:25 pm

Simply amazing. And lefties far and wide in the US will just plotz themselves trying to tell you how much the Parliamentarian system is better than our direct system. Fucking maroons.
I’m no scholar, but doesn’t the parliamentarian system almost guarantee that the minority parties will always have their foot in the door, just to fuck up as much as they can while they are out of power?

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: May 11, 2010, 10:42 pm

It’s the other side that worries me, Gromulin: the fact that the Prime Minister comes from the majority party. So it’s as if Congress and the President are always from the same party.

Comment from Gromulin
Time: May 11, 2010, 10:53 pm

Ahh…craptacular. Hadn’t thought of that. I do like the “throw the bums out at any time part”, but the rest just seems to suck choad.

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: May 11, 2010, 11:10 pm

Well, they can’t always throw the bums out. They have elections kind of when the PM wants to, but they can force him to have one if the majority votes no confidence.

Or something close to that. I’m still trying to absorb it.

Comment from Can’t hark my cry
Time: May 12, 2010, 12:21 am

. . .the minority parties will always have their foot in the door, just to fuck up as much as they can while they are out of power

So it’s as if Congress and the President are always from the same party.

The older I get, the more I believe that elected branches function best when they are least efficient, where efficiency is represented by political solidarity. There is a good deal to be said for having to form coalitions with other parties, so that you are always having to consider cooperative solutions. Problem is, we never stay in that happy utopian state of many moderate-size political parties with genuinely distinguishable philosophies. They all form permanent coalitions and turn into bigger bubbles, so we end up with huge parties that don’t really represent the philosophies of the majority of their members, and are manipulated by their leaders, to whom political behavior is a desirable end unto itself, and political power is an aphrodisiac.

Having said that. . .I live in New York State where, over the last 3 years, we have had some fascinating examples of the problems of political coalitions, and self-absorbed political leaders, so I shouldn’t poke fun at ANYONE’S political morass!

Comment from Allen
Time: May 12, 2010, 12:32 am

I think for many folks in the US to really get it we’d have had to experience how it was originally thought up. The winner became President and the runner-up VP. Now think about some of the combinations.


Now if that doesn’t give you the shivers nothing will. The last one would have been epic though. Who wouldn’t love the Obama/McCain administration?


Comment from S. Weasel
Time: May 12, 2010, 12:40 am

You know, Allen, there are ways I can see that working very well. By working very badly.

I subscribe to Can’t hark’s thesis. Governs best that governs least. Least efficiently.

If we can’t have an absolute monarchy with me as monarch, then a really fucked-up, paralyzed system is best. Gridlock is a feature, not a bug.

Comment from Can’t hark my cry
Time: May 12, 2010, 12:49 am

Gridlock is a feature, not a bug.

I am so.o.o.o.o.o stealing that!

And, well. I would not vote for you as supreme monarch, or ruler of the universe–only because I wouldn’t vote for anyone for that position (hell, I hate voting in presidential elections–and don’t get me started on the gubernatorial ones!), but I’d sure vote for you as one of the ruling triumvirate. Have to think about who the others might be, though.

And, actually, I kinda like the “winner is president, runner up is VP” model–as long as there are multiple candidates with real chances. Which means multiple relatively power-balanced parties, which means. . .oh, the hell with it!

Comment from Gromulin
Time: May 12, 2010, 12:56 am

Sorry Stoaty…we already have a weasel-in-chief.


Hark: Since I’m from CA, I share your pain…I pray for gridlock every day.

Comment from Can’t hark my cry
Time: May 12, 2010, 1:04 am

Gromulin–well, unfortunately, we have had gridlock for, hm, hang. . .very close to a full calendar year, now, one way or the other(had to go check the calendar–June 7th or thereabouts. Yup.)

We currently have, in my estimation, the most honorable governor we have had in my adulthood, and he can do nothing because neither his party (with which he is at odds anyway) nor the opposition controls the legislature, and absolutely NONE of our elected officials (with the exception of Mr. Paterson) is willing to act like a statesman instead of a politician.

Sorry to hijack the thread. I’m not saying our troubles are worse than the UK’s (they aren’t) but, y’know, they’re OURS. . .

Comment from Allen
Time: May 12, 2010, 1:41 am

I hadn’t quite thought of it that way.

If I’m not mistaken Weasel, to be crowned Queen of England, wouldn’t you first need to be, Weasel, Princess of Wales? Now for me, Sweasel.com in Welsh would be something to behold.

Dw i’n hoffi Sweasel!

Comment from EW1(SG)
Time: May 12, 2010, 2:40 am

I have seen the happy place,

Me too.

But I was heavily influenced by serious narcotics at the time.

Comment from Nina from GCP
Time: May 12, 2010, 2:43 am

Hark: Since I’m from CA, I share your pain…I pray for gridlock every day.

As do I. Those morons in Sacramento make life more difficult for me on a daily basis.

Comment from Can’t hark my cry
Time: May 12, 2010, 2:49 am

Gromulin & Nina:

I’d invite you to emigrate, but I have this bad feeling you’d not find our politics an improvement over those of California.

[I thought long and hard about responding to EW1. . .but I have my doubts about statutes of limitations. . .


Comment from porknbean
Time: May 12, 2010, 3:03 am

So elections don’t work.

Lamp posts. Lots of rope.

Comment from JuliaM
Time: May 12, 2010, 4:29 am

“And if this whole rickety Rube Goldbergian contraption starts to burn oil…”

‘If’..? I think you meant ‘when’.

I give it until September.

Comment from Sporadic Small Arms Fire
Time: May 12, 2010, 1:23 pm

“Dear Luftwaffe, come back, all is forgiven” someone wrote the other day.

The immigration process looks more and more tempting since I live in Washington, DC. Ideal locations: Utah or Montana.

While I have the floor… are there any plans to offer bailout/stimulus to Her Maj’s Island or after the Greek expenditures the mood has sort of soured on the assistance to financially unsound?
No matter how hard times will be, there will always be more money for CCTV cameras, recycling and new mosque construction.

Comment from James
Time: May 12, 2010, 1:59 pm

Government gridlock is all well and good when the rest of the country is going smoothly, but when you’re teetering on the cliff edge it would be nice if “reverse” didn’t lock up.

Comment from JohnSF
Time: May 12, 2010, 2:30 pm

LibDems are further left than Labour?
Depends a lot on which LibDem you’re talking to; and even more on what he thinks you want to hear. “What are my principles? What would you like them to be?”
Most people view them as the “centre party”, though that’s really a hangover from the days when Labour were avowedly socialist.

The LibDems are an odd assortment of views from the nearly libertarian to the neo-socialist via romantic greens and relatively normal centrists, unified only by ruthless electoral opportunism and the pursuit of proportional representation.

As for UKIP votes (and speaking as someone who has voted UKIP before): yes, if the Conservatives had been able to pick up the lot given the seats where the Con lose margin was less than UKIP total, they’d have won.
BUT that depends on all other things being equal.

IMHO in that hypothetical campaign the Conservatives would have lost at least as many votes to the LibDems in the centre swing zone. Crunching the results for that in terms of the various marginals is more than my little brain can figure offhand, but my guess would be if anything a worse outcome for the Conservatives.

Actually, I think Cameron has outsmarted the Libs. He gets the votes needed to get through the essential budget cuts and tax increases to deal with the deficit.
Then the LibDems fall apart –
EITHER if AV falls at the referendum, they realise they’ve been sold a pup, the radicals move to dump Clegg and the Conservatives wallop them in the Lib v Con marginals
OR if AV passes, the LibDems lose the only thing that has kept their party glued together.

The LibDems just volunteered to stuff their dangly bits into the sausage machine of governmental politics. It will not end well for them.

Comment from Oldcat
Time: May 12, 2010, 4:35 pm

I also disagree with Can’t Hark. The real secret to making a representative system work is when the parties adapt to form those compromises internally. Its better for the Whigs, Free Soil, and some Know Nothings to join to be Republicans rather than to try and barter up something to satisfy the hard core crazies in a party. Everything gets homogenized and softened.
The good ideas in a splinter party get co-opted, the bad gets lost.

If you have dozens of itty bitty parties, then you have continuously shifting alliances and the payoffs that produces. In a parliamentary system like England, lots of parties produces crazy results like Italy used to have – a government shift every few months or so.

A winner takes all system is better than proportional representation for similar reasons. Every representative has to please at least his district, for the most part. If you just had to please the 1 percent or so Daily Kos readers, you can be more zany.

Comment from Oldcat
Time: May 12, 2010, 4:36 pm

Sporadic –

Obama is more likely to send Bombers to England than bailout money. He hates you guys for some reason.

Comment from Gromulin
Time: May 12, 2010, 5:19 pm

He hates you guys for some reason.

That reason being the colonization of certain countries in East Africa in the 19th fucking century. Which is why one of his first (despicable) acts in office was to have the bust of Sir Winston removed from the White House. Thin skinned prick.

Comment from Sporadic Small Arms Fire
Time: May 12, 2010, 6:48 pm

Hey Gromulin,

the list could go on and on.

Sir Winston’s bust, alas, is gone, but now we have golden Makoomba with a spinning chrome 28″ rim and an ostrich bone which brings us much fertility and wards off the river devils.

Since our Stoat host is an artiste I thought I’d throw some big names on the barbie:

Comment from Christopher Taylor
Time: May 12, 2010, 7:26 pm

Cameron was pretty much a leftist to begin with, so his working with the left is not exactly shocking. The only hope for the UK was UKIP it seemed to me, but they didn’t even run enough guys to have a chance.

They did, however, run enough to act as spoiler, ruing the Tories’ chance at a full majority.

Comment from Nina from GCP
Time: May 12, 2010, 8:50 pm

Hark, I think my daughter’s going over to Merry ol’ England for grad school, so I might visit Christmas. 🙂

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: May 12, 2010, 9:42 pm

UKIP totally didn’t have their act together this time, Christopher. They’ve never gotten it completely together, but they were better in the last election. Their new leader, Lord Pearson, is a hopelessly bad spokesman.

Uncle B exchanged emails with our local UKIP candidate, who admitted they weren’t as on the ball as they should’ve been. We couldn’t even wangle a poster out of them. They’re short of money, I’m sure, but they need to cowboy up and start acting like a real party.

Comment from Can’t hark my cry
Time: May 12, 2010, 10:29 pm

Nina–well, I was referring to relocation to New York (where I live), but it doesn’t sound as if relocating to the UK in order to escape dumb political morasses would be any more sensible a move. Have a great time on your visit, though!

Comment from Nina from GCP
Time: May 12, 2010, 11:01 pm

As far as a Californian is concerned, NY and UK are pretty much the same place. 🙂

Comment from Can’t hark my cry
Time: May 13, 2010, 2:37 am

The good ideas in a splinter party get co-opted, the bad gets lost.
If you have dozens of itty bitty parties, then you have continuously shifting alliances and the payoffs that produces. . . .lots of parties produces crazy results like Italy used to have – a government shift every few months or so.
A winner takes all system is better than proportional representation for similar reasons. Every representative has to please at least his district, for the most part.

Well. Agreed–lots of tiny parties isn’t a functional system. And also agreed, the good ideas of a splinter (um, tiny, yes?) party get coopted by the larger party that uses the splinter and casts it aside. . .but no, the bad doesn’t get lost. It stays with the splinter. May not have any obvious effect on the body politic as a whole, but it never goes away. I wasn’t clear–my political ideal is a roughly-double-handful of moderately sized parties, each of which attracts voters who are genuinely aware of the philosophical position of the party, and reasonably comfortable with embracing it in its totality.

I don’t actually think that my political ideal could work sustainably, because human beings just can’t be relied on in the aggregate and long term. All parties (and all systems) in the long run revert to self-interest, and there seems to be a preference for large organizational structures over small ones.

On the other hand, well, gee, goshawinkies. . .huge political organizations have worked out so well for us, yes? I mean–how many members of either of the major American political parties could actually tell you the principal platforms of the party they belong to. . .much less assure you they subscribe to them wholeheartedly?

Politics, in America certainly and I think elsewhere as well, has a lot in common with religion. Blind faith and little thought. At least small groups keep the ability to go viral in check?

Nina: I’m still trying to figure out which geographic location should feel insulted. For the record–I really enjoyed the 2 days I once spent in California, and the MANY virtual days I have spent there in literature. . .

Comment from Number 6
Time: May 14, 2010, 2:48 pm

I like lived in LA for like seven like years dude and it was like, well awesome. Back in Sussex, England now but still have a hankering for the sunny skies and beach bum lifestyle – not that I did too much of that spending most of my time in Scotland Yard, the local British pub. Ahh, happy days.

Comment from Bill (still the .00358% of your traffic that’s from Iraq) T
Time: May 16, 2010, 5:43 am

Remember Anita Dunn, the reflexively lip-licking knucklehead of a White House Deputy Communications Director, who listed Mao as her intellectual hero and teh greatest poet in, like, forevah?

She was Little Davey’s “Package Me” wonk.

Comment from Greg
Time: May 18, 2010, 11:27 pm

Dang, all you have to say is “Pelosi” and it’s clear just how bad Britain’s governmental situation sucks right now. At least “Pelosi” is only the Speaker of the Mouse. It’s not like we have a Communist homosexual anti-democracy/Christian/semitic wanna-be-dictator Muslim racist-sexist bigot as the President or anything.

Comment from GayBoy
Time: June 16, 2010, 11:23 pm

A graphical website I find helpful (with some good background information) can be found here: http://www.politicalcompass.org/ukparties2010

As a resident Brit, I’ll give my 2 cents worth on the election result and party leanings:

For your information, I supported the Liberal Democrat party because their policies would support, in a ‘socialist’ sense, people who would need help from the state. The Labour party have similar aims, but I came to dislike their nanny-state ideals and the numerous authoritarian, piss-poor laws that trampled over the civil liberties of our citizens. For examples, look up the UK’s Control Orders scheme (lock up a terrorist without fair trial), ASBO scheme (criminal penalties for breaching a civil court order), ID Cards (NO2ID website will inform on why this was a bad idea) and many others, which were among several other bad ideas that New Labour introduced. The Lib Dems may be an eclectic bunch ideologically, but the governance of the party helps to create some form of democracy and coherencein policy where it can. My idea of the Liberal Democrats is something that resembles the New Labour party economically but with a different outlook on individual liberty and social policy.

The Conservative party is still remembered by many as the party that dismantled state-run institutions (e.g. mining), destroying communities that relied on this source of income and then providing little to support them in the aftermath. Many perceive (not myself, for the record) that the party actually *enjoyed* putting people out of work and leaving them with no job or opportunities to move on to something else, which is why they struggle so much to gain votes in the North of England – where this pain was felt the most.

From my gay perspective, the Conservative party ensured that when I lost my virginity it was illegal when it was legal for my peers and it supported this stance. They represent the power granted by privilage or inheritance rather than by merit and continue to propagate similar policies to this date. If they had their way, I’d be labelled as a child sex offender for doing the same things my straight peers were doing perfectly legally. I believe the Conservatives only believe in Liberty or Freedom for other Conservatives, often to the exclusion of others.

The Lib/Con coalition gives me hope that some of the better economic policies of the conservatives will be merged with the more forward thinking social policies of the Liberal Democrats, without making the Government go bankrupt. I have hope that this could work, although am concerned that the identity of the Liberal party will get subsumed in the process, resulting in a huge loss in votes for the next election.

One of the big LibDem ideas I support is a proportional representation election system, that will ensure Governments with a mandate of less than a third of the population cannot continue to make rules for everyone to live by without consulting others that may think differently. This might smell like ‘weak government’ to Yanks and Tories but to me represents a rightful curb on the actions Government can take against (or for) its people. I’ll support a referendum on AV in the hope it presents a stepping stone to the Single Transferable Vote system of electing our representatives.

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