a great time to be a crazy backbencher

So how did I spend the election night? As it happens, I decided to go to bed about 1am, noting that I was beginning to get as drunk as most of the people on the BBC visibly were and there was still a while to go before any really substantive data came through. Did anyone else notice this, by the way? I’ve never seen so many important people visibly pissed before. The ruling class drinks in psychic defence, as Mr. Pop would say. And the inhabitants of the best election night thread ever.

And I am amazed that my wave of doom from yesterday has passed. I’m also delighted by the virality. Horrified by our fantastic electoral system – 800,000 more LD votes than last time, and a smaller parliamentary party? Guilty for not going to campaign for Susan Kramer. Informed that actually, “the markets” don’t care about us and there is plenty of other stuff happening in the world. Delighted by BNPFAIL and Charles Clarke and David Heathcote-Amory and Nancy Mogg and Jacqui Smith and Peter Robinson joining us all in obscurity.

I do have a serious point in this post, which is credibility. Tories on the Today programme this morning were talking about offering electoral reform for the Lords and local elections; this is not a meaningful offer, as a proportional Lords wouldn’t be much different from the current one (which has been fixed to be roughly even). For the Tories, it’s cost-free, and therefore meaningless in terms of signalling theory.

More seriously, what credibility does David Cameron have to offer anything?

To make any realistic offer from the Conservatives to the Liberals credible, they have to prove that they’re willing to pass PR for the Commons with Liberal votes against their own backbenchers.

One thing we do know about this parliament is that it’s going to super-empower everyone’s backbenches and the odds-and-sods – this is what happened in the Major years, and he had a (bare) majority. And the last-ditch Tories hate PR – hell, some of them probably aren’t fully reconciled to the Reform Act of 1832. They have nothing to lose but their safe seats; they would have every incentive to hold the government hostage at every opportunity, and they’d be roared on by the extra-parliamentary Tory right.

We simply can’t accept promises from Cameron, because there is no credible assurance he can deliver on them. And it is simply unacceptable for the outcome of an election in which 51% of the public voted for either Labour or the Liberals, and no overall majority emerged, to be that a party with 36% of the vote forms a minority government. Demonstrate tomorrow. 2pm Trafalgar Square. If you’re not in London, why not put the show on right here?

(I just noticed that the BBC results page now puts Lib-Lab ahead of Tories-DUP-Lady Sylvia if they somehow manage to bribe her round. And you’ve got to count in the 4 NI MPs who take the Labour whip.)

According to the boy Band, “London lost it for Cameron”. So meanwhile, here is some music.

3 Comments on "a great time to be a crazy backbencher"

  1. it is simply unacceptable for the outcome of an election in which 51% of the public voted for either Labour or the Liberals, and no overall majority emerged, to be that a party with 36% of the vote forms a minority government.

    Why is it? If the other parties can’t put together a government, you’d expect the largest party to form a minority administration.


  2. Two things lost it for Cameron

    1/ Constituency sizes – I believe the boundaries are set to give equal numbers as at the 2001 census. But you get people leaving the cities for the countryside. 70,000 people voted in Isle of Wight, 42,000 in Halifax, for example. And the people who replace the city-leavers have an age profile which (at present) cuts down the voting population. In Bradford half the Muslim population is under 18 so can’t vote.

    With a similar share of the vote to the share Cameron actually got, Labour would have had a 90-plus majority.

    In 2005 Labour got 35.3% against the Tories 32.3% – which gave them 356 seats against the Tories 198 and an overall majority of 66.

    2010 – Tories 36.1%, Labour 29% – which gave the Tories 306 seats and no majority, and Labour 258 – 60 more than the Tories got in 2005 on 3.3% less share of the vote.

    Still, it was nice to see those people in London demonstrating against the unfairness of it all yesterday.

    2/ UKIP. In 21 constituencies where the Tories finished second the UKIP vote was decisive i.e. bigger than the 1st-2nd gap. IMHO UKIP voters are overwhelmingly old-fashioned, socially conservative Tories – i.e. ‘fruitcakes, loonies and closet racists’ as Cameron undiplomatically described them. Thursday they paid him back.


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