Written by David Broadbridge
As the general election draws closer, polls are continually suggesting that there will be a hung parliament. On Friday, the Guardian suggested a hung parliament with the Tories holding the largest number of seats (274) and the only majority governments being between the Tories and the SNP (52 seats predicted) and a grand coalition between the Conservatives and Labour (271 seats predicted).
Taking the first of these options a couple of points questions dawned, firstly would there even be talks between these two parties if it turns out the Conservatives are the largest party. Secondly how would the rest of the UK respond to there being a party in government that only one part of the UK could vote for.
In answer to the first question, the SNP would probably be too stubborn. The second question is trickier. I do not think that the rest of the UK (England especially) would react too well to the SNP taking the reigns as the junior partner in a coalition with either the Tories or Labour. They cannot govern in the best interest of the UK and still want Scotland to break away.
Governing with the Tories one would also expect to see their vote drop in much of Scotland, in the same way Labour’s did after the independence campaign. Lastly the slim majority and likelihood of backbench revolt in both parties would make governing very tricky. In Scotland, the Tories supported a number of SNP policies when they were in minority government, and yet both parties have completely ruled it out. So lets turn to the other even less-likely option; a grand coalition between the Tories and Labour.
This would undoubtedly reinforce Nigel Farage’s argument that there is no difference between them, however it could be the best possibility if the election goes as predicted. A grand coalition should not at all be out of the question. Indeed Angela Merkel leads one in Germany and there are larger policy differences between her Christian Democrats and the Socialists, than there are between the Tories and Labour.
A grand coalition would make the Conservative party seem a bit nicer and give the Labour party some economic credibility, two illusions for the price of one. Clearly, whoever had the largest party would lead the government, but of the two frontbenches who would take what role in government?
Taking the predictions as the Guardian reported them, David Cameron would remain Prime Minister with Ed Milliband as his number two. George Osborne would stay as Chancellor (one would hope) and Ed Balls likely to be Chief Secretary to the Treasury. Milliband would likely want at least one of the great offices of state and my guess would be Home Secretary, being given to Yvette Cooper. It would be a cold day in hell when Milliband accepts Theresa May as Home Secretary. This would leave Phillip Hammond as the Foreign Secretary.
While this government is even more difficult than a Tory/SNP coalition, it would be one with real strength and a stunning majority. Policy agreements could almost certainly be made. Milliband would drop his mansion tax policy and would probably concede an EU referendum, whereas Cameron would scale the cuts back and allow a re-reformed NHS. The key point is that neither party is capable of governing alone, the Tories can’t decide what their policy is on Europe and voters have no faith in their handling of the NHS, whereas Labour have no economic policy and a leader who probably couldn’t organise a bar fight. I hope to see this as the only viable government that emerges after the general election and I would urge Cameron and Milliband to consider it. It would strip the bad from each party and allow their stronger MPs to shine.