8 April 2015

Nae pals

Look at the numbers. By all means, the polls may be out. I remain unconvinced that the SNP will approach anything like 50-odd seats. Perhaps the Liberal Democrats will do slightly better in those parts of the Britain which remain authentically liberal - comfortable, too snobbish to vote Labour, with with too much - tepid - regard for the general welfare to embrace Toryism. But look at the overall totals, the trend, and the likely outcomes. 2015 is a general election of friends. Or at least of uneasy allies. 

Whoever wins a plurality of seats will have to rely on the support - or at least the acquiescence of near neighbours - to seize power, installing themselves in Downing Street and distributing the ministerial dodgems to their followers. There are 650 members of the House of Commons. If we eliminate Mr Speaker, and discount the five Sinn Fein members who do not take their seats, a working majority in the Commons is currently 323 seats

And standing there, isolated in the corner of the school-yard, nose snotters, eyes streaming, we find the Conservative Party: a petulant little Lord Fauntleroy figure - Spoilt Bastard for Viz readers - friendless and alone. UKIP's broad but shallow support may throw up a handful of MPs who could be persuaded to leave David Cameron's settee in No 10. The Unionist alliance in Northern Ireland will yield a few more - but the price for their support seems to be greater lucre for the Six Counties - and a state-slicing Tory administration must yield fewer opportunities for bungs and investments in exchange for confidence and supply. 

It remains to be seen how the shattered fragments of the Liberal Democrats will reassemble after voting day, or what ideological strain and analysis of their current predicament will prevail: the noble self-sacrificing patriots, or a Benedict Arnold leadership, foolishly deserting their base. Even then, the party looks almost certain to be deprived of its 2010 predicament and opportunity: the only viable coalition partner for the single largest party. It is a question of rainbow coalitions all round, formal and informal. 

Analysing last night's debate on STV, Adam Bienkov rightly underlines a point this blog has been making for some time:

"... as things stand, Labour are highly unlikely to win an overall majority at the election. According to most forecasts it is also likely that the Tories will be the largest party in a hung parliament. If this turns out to be the case then you might expect Ed Miliband to have no chance of becoming prime minister. You would be wrong. In a parliamentary system, it is not the party which has the largest number of seats, but the party which is most able to pass a majority in that parliament, which gets to govern. If current polls are correct, that party is Labour. The Conservatives know this, which is why they have spent the past few months trying to delegitimise the idea of any kind of post-election arrangement between Labour and the SNP."

This is the Tory cri de cœur. Demanding power without a mandate, claiming legitimacy without support, lashing out at the "undemocratic" outrage of the SNP refusing point-blank to re-install this unpopular and divisive minority party in power. But the bleak truth, my snivelling, lonesome, friend is this: this is a general election of friends, and save for Nigel's crackpot gang of three or four, you've nae pals.


  1. Andrew: 'I remain unconvinced that the SNP will approach anything like 50-odd seats. '

    I would have agreed last week but not so sure of that now - chap in the NS argues SNP will indeed take over 50 seats -


    It does seem unlikely somehow but unlikely events of course happen and reading this piece, Mr Lambert seems a canny watcher.

    I mind everyone pooh-poohing the chap at Better Nation who argued UKip could nick a Scottish Euro seat (Eck was exuding volcanic derision at the idea) and hell that happened.

    The thing is the 50-odd seat event could happen with a minority of the votes cast - in which case the majority of Scottish voters find themselves with an avalanche they did not want, but hey that’s FPTP democracy for you.

  2. Just seen the England /Wales Green broadcast which like you Andrew considers the Old Pals Act!

    Fab video, but how many of us in Scotland are voting Green? Precious few according to the polls and I do find it very hard to believe that only 3% (or even less) of us intend to vote Green