Wednesday 21 June 2017
2010 to 2017: what a difference.
In the final days days leading up to the 2010 General Election we were warned by David Cameron and most of the press that if there were a balanced (actually they said "hung" ) parliament than the sky would fall in, the markets would collapse and the world as we know it would come to an end. So to avoid the calamity of a Labour government dependent on the Scottish Nationalist (horror of horrors) better vote Conservative.
Well, Gordon Brown's Labour government lost its majority, Cameron's Tories didn't win one, the Liberal Democrats, with 57 seats (oh happy days) held the balance, and the sky didn't fall in, the markets didn't collapse and the world as we knew it went on much as before
So promptly the mantra shifted that unless a "strong and stable" (though they didn't yet put it that way) coalition was formed within hours then all these financial calamities would surely happen. The leaders of the three major parties (yes, we were one of them then), all exhausted by their strenuous election campaigns, had frantic meeting, half heated offers from Labour came to nothing, David Cameron and Nick Clegg put together what looked like a good deal and within in less than a week the Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition was formed.
In none of this period did the markets even wobble.
However, in hindsight it has become clear that in all the haste the Tories had managed to run rings run round us. We had not absorbed the small print, or lack of it, so our dreams of Electoral and House of Lords reform, which looked to be assured, came to nothing, and we were trapped in an austerity regime which went against all our traditions and heritage (though this seemed to worry some senior Liberal Democrats less than most of the party).
To avoid similar fiascos in the future I suggested that we abandon the expectation that the day after an election the old PM would leave No 10 by the back door as the new one entered by the front, and spend at least 10 days in a transition period from one government to another, even if the same prime minister continued in office.
Strangely that is more or less what has happened since 8th June. There is still no sign of an agreement between Northern Ireland's Democratic Unionists (apparently not such a horror) and the May government, the anachronistically named Queen's Speech (actually the announcement of the government's programme) has had to be postponed until today, and the sky has not fallen, the markets have not even wobbled (though the £ has dipped a bit) and, sadly, the world again continues much as before.
Although I have no sympathy whatsoever for the bigoted views of the DUP, the party founded by Ian Paisley, they are from their point of view quite right to hang on until they have cast iron guarantees from the Tories for getting whatever it is they want.
Lets hope this sets a precedent for the formation of future, and I hope, progressive, coalitions