Thursday, 29 April 2010

Hanging in the Balance

I find it irritating that both the media and parties persist in using the negative term "hung" rather than the positive term "balanced" to describe a parliament in which no party has an over-all majority. The term "hung" in this context is borrowed from the USA where it is used to describe a jury unable to come to a conclusion. There is every reason to suppose that a parliament which more accurately reflects the balance of opinion in the country will come to better decisions than one which is able to impose the view of a minority on a reluctant majority. The Iraq War was just one such a decision: the Poll Tax another. By contrast our government in the Second World War was a coalition which was perfectly capable of both uniting the country and bringing matters to a successful conclusion.

The Lib-Lab Pact of the late 70s was not a coalition, since no member of the Liberal Party joined the government, but an agreement to support a minority government. The 70s were not the most successful time in British politics, but it is worth remembering that, during the periods of "majority" government either the rate of unemployment fell only when inflation rose, or if inflation was curbed unemployment soared, passing the symbolic half million mark whilst Michael Foot was the responsible minister. Only during the period of the Lib-Lab pact did both fall together.

Today the Conservatives are trying to frighten us with the argument that unless we do our patriotic duty and give them a majority we shall lose our triple A rating and our economy will go into further free-fall. A letter in yesterday's Guardian ( from Alistair Peck, 28/04/10) points out that this is "so much hyperbole" since "... there are 16 AAA rated country economies: 12 use proportional representation, 10 also have coalition governments."

A letter on the previous day from Hugo Radice, concludes:

"Why ... do our financial, business, political and media elites swallow the Tory-city line? Because the success of the government's bailout of the banks threatens the dominant neo-liberal view
that markets are better than states at managing our economy. Their scaremongering over the debt...(is) designed to ensure a speedy return to business as usual for free-market capitalism."

My sentiments exactly.

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