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Why Hung Parliaments are better than scare stories

There’s a lot of lies out there at the moment about a hung Parliament. Let’s be clear about this, the lie-mongers have one aim only: to scare British voters silly with the worst kind of falsehoods about how bad a “hung” Parliament would be. From the Tory Tabloids to Tory Central Office, from Cameron to Clark, the lies about how a balanced Parliament would cause ruination and the end of the world are rife. But what would it really be like?

I live in Switzerland. It’s had a hung Parliament for more than 50 years, and it has made Switzerland into Europe’s richest country by head of population. Crime here is low, traffic is under control, and the trains run on time. There are practically no strikes, taxes are low, unemployment and inflation are low, there are no cameras festooned all over the place, you hardly ever see a policeman or policewoman, yet the whole society runs as smoothly as, er, a Swiss watch. The economy is strong, and the Swiss Franc is even stronger.

In short, the country works well. Unlike Britain’s “Broken Society” as David Cameron likes to call it. He wants to replace it with a “Big Society” the details of which he hasn’t really thought up yet. Clearly, he’s been spending too much time with society girls… I mean, where else could he get the crazy notion that ordinary people, strapped for cash, have the time or money to give up their jobs in order to work as a volunteer to replace someone who just happens to be a fully trained, state employee? Of course David Cameron means well, he’s an idealist, but whose ideals is he pushing? Those of ordinary people, or his Old Etonian values that imagine the UK can be run by a bunch of idealistic volunteer do-gooders? A hung Parliament would have some realists in it too though, plus some pragmatists, and such silly ideas would be moderated.

He probably thinks the salary costs of the soon to be redundant professionals will make a handy contribution to the £6 billion in savings the Tories want to make in their first year. This £6 billion can be used to beef up the estates of Cameron’s rich double millioniares with a £6 billion Inheritance Tax giveaway. If the Tories had absolute power through a Parliamentary majority, they could do things like that. And worse.

Just look at the recent history of General Elections in the UK. Nine Labour governments, and eight Conservative; 30 years of Labour rule interspersed with 35 years of Conservative rule. No wonder the country needs help. Britain’s been run for a lifetime by the two parties of extremes. As soon as one party gets in, they spend half their time undoing things their predecessors put in place, and the rest of the time adding in their own ideologically based ideas that when power is passed back to the other side will be undone again. The moderation of a hung Parliament is absent.

Since the Second World War no British Government has been elected with the support of more than 50% of the electorate. At the last election in 2005 when labour won a majority of 66, they only had the support of a mere 21.5% of the electorate! That means that four out of five people did not vote for the current Labour government. Because of the “First Past the Post” system the Conservatives are desperate to hold onto, the 78% of the electorate that did NOT vote for Labour have had to put up with five more unnecessary years of absolutist rule. The Tories are almost as bad though, for their last term in office they managed to get less than 33% of the electorate to vote for them to get a majority of 21 seats. That meant that 2 out of 3 voters did NOT vote Tory, but had to put up with unpopular Tory policies until Tony Blair arrived. And he only had 31% of the electorate behind him. The ever so popular Maggie? 33%.

Is it any wonder things go from bad to worse? Without the moderation that a hung Parliament can bring, you end up with extreme policies being voted in with little public support.

In Switzerland, and many other places with a balanced or coalition government, laws get passed only if there is a consensus between the main parties. It might take slightly longer to pass a law, but once passed, it stays because all the parties had a hand in forming it. Of course deals are done between the four parties, but isn’t that what we employ our politicians for? To negotiate the best deals on our behalf so that our vote isn’t ignored. The Socialist Party looks after the interests of the workers, the Conservative Party looks after the needs of business, the Christian Party looks after moral values and the Right Wing Nationalist party worries about security and immigrants (20% of the Swiss population comes from outside of Switzerland).

The population supports the laws because, due to Proportional Representation, their vote isn’t ignored, it’s used to allocate seats in Parliament according to the proportion of the whole electorate who voted the same way. There’s always a hung Parliament and it always has the support of more than 50% of the electorate. It works because the politicians work together. They realise that working together benefits the country, and while perhaps not every law appeals to every party fully, usually there is some element of it that they introduced with a thought to their supporters needs. It’s all about people working together and helping each other.

So, a hung Parliament is not a bad thing in itself; it just depends on how you use it. If David Cameron and the Tory Tabloids decided to undermine such an arrangement from within because they preferred to have absolute power all to themselves, thereby disenfranchising more than half of voters, whose interests would they have at heart? Theirs, or yours?

No wonder they spread scare stories. They don’t want you to know the truth! Balance will only come with Real Change, and the only real change would come from the LibDems.

Spread the word. Balance is good!

Today’s Independent has an interesting article on the Conservative run Hammersmith and Fulham council that David Cameron holds up as a shining example of what he wants to do to the whole of the UK. It’s scary stuff.


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