Majority Government – or tabloid rule?


by Hobhouse    
3:20 pm - May 6th 2010

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A hush is spreading. The sun is bright and hopeful, there’s smiling on the streets. One in seven of us, even more, could vote today.

And perhaps, just perhaps, we’re electing a Majority Government.

What does it mean? When the dust settles, in a week or three, we could have a new government, elected by a strong majority of voters, ready to roll up their sleeves and get to work — for all of us.

A National Government? A Reform Parliament? Maybe even a good one.

This couldn’t be a government of one party alone. Nor could it be a Conservative one. Even if the Tories win a majority in Parliament, they’ll have little more than a third of the vote. And they’ve made it clear that if they fall short, they’ll try to govern alone.

The Tories have turned their faces away from a deal with the voting majority. They’ll only go into coalition with the tabloids.

So our hopes for Majority Government hang between Liberal Democrats — and Labour. And either side could screw that up.

It’s a new and delicate dance, demanding courage and humility. For not a few politicians, this is quite a stretch. But here’s how it could go:

Gordon Brown’s time is done. But only he is prime minister. Only he can bless a Majority Government out of the gate. But he can never lead it.

Brown must say that Labour wants a Majority Government with the Lib Dems, while acknowledging that the coalition will choose its own leader and that this may not be him. Then he has to step back as caretaker, and let others negotiate for him. Labour will have to go beyond its comfort zone and genuinely share power.

This can’t be a Labour Government, but a government for all. Who knows, perhaps Greens, Scots, Welsh or Irish will be welcome too?

The Lib Dems must say that this is a vote for change and reform, and that they’re ready for a coalition built on fairness. Forget first chances — most people haven’t voted for any one of the three: the next government needs a mandate from the majority.

The Lib Dems will be right to make genuine partnership and fixing the broken electoral system red lines. But they must not overreach.

And no-one can leak, or they’ll lose the public’s trust.

Our next prime minister could be Alan Johnson, Nick Clegg or Jack Straw for all I care. They must be brave, smart and modest: leader, listener, and bridge-builder. Rebuilding a sustainable economy and the public finances and reforming our politics is hard and responsible work, and we need everyone involved.

In the background, as Sunny says, Labour needs a months-long conversation, a real contest, and new foundations. Go back to the roots with humility, listen, and think again.

But we need a responsible Majority Government fast. Otherwise the tabloid story – of Tory triumph – will grip us. And that would be the most lethal and corrupt of lies – making minorities of majorities and majorities of minorities, and leaving us saddled with a weak and nasty Tabloid Government. Shiver.

Either way we’re making history. Let’s do all we can to get it right.

And if the majority needs to take to the streets to be heard, that Parliament Square flashmob was a start, and this Demo for Democracy looks like a good idea.

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About the author
Hobhouse comes from a long line of pseudonymous pamphleteers and British progressives. It's better that way. Connect on Twitter: @hobhouse2010
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Story Filed Under: Blog ,Elections2010


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Reader comments


Fine analysis! Mostly for breaking the ‘coalition != majority government’ meme which has been lurking about under the radar the last two weeks.

Thanks. Yes – that’s precisely the point.

Let’s not bottle it!

3. Stuart White

Very well said.

4. Mike Killingworth

Betting money suggests: Con 320 Lab 220 LD 80, others 30 (of whom, NI 17).

@1: Mostly for breaking the ‘coalition != majority government’

Indeed. In fact, it’s almost exactly the other way round.

Everyone’s trying to second guess it, I wish they’d just wait. I think it’s more interesting to think about the fact that we will have an entirely new generation of MPs, rather than guessing which party will win. I’m really looking forward to seeing how the new generation of MPs do. Regardless of who our Prime Minister, today’s election will mark the moment when leadership of the country passed from the Baby Boom Generation to Generation Jones. GenJones, which is the heretofore “lost” generation between the Boomers and Xers, will dominate the new Parliament, as many Boomer MPs are replaced by Jonesers. It looks like significant media attention has accompanied this generational transition in numerous countries. I quite enjoyed this piece in the Indy this week that discusses Cameron and Clegg’s identities as GenJonesers: http://www.independent.co.uk/opinion/commentators/jonathan-pontell-cleggs-rise-is-the-sound-of-generation-jones-clearing-its-throat-1961191.html And I thought there was a pretty decent overview about GenJones in the UK here: http://www.generationjones.org.uk/ For light relief from the election see this clip by Jonathan Ross about Generation Jones: http://www.youtube.com/user/GenerationJonesTV#p/a/u/1/5ZmO6Pl2E2

The Sun is already at it:

http://www.thesun.co.uk/sol/homepage/news/sun_says/244723/The-Sun-Says.html

The Tories must not be allowed to steal power they haven’t got a mandate for.

All Parties lost last night. And deservedly so.

BenM: I agree, everyone lost last night. (And deserved to.) This post still stands. But we’re going to have to work for it for weeks and months — it won’t drop into our lap.


Reactions: Twitter, blogs
  1. ????

    RT @libcon: Majority Government or tabloid rule? http://bit.ly/cBIqhO

  2. Aoife

    RT @libcon: Majority Government or tabloid rule? http://bit.ly/cBIqhO

  3. Hobhouse

    @campbellclaret @alexsmith1982 @nextleft – Majority Government or tabloid rule? Labour must genuinely share power: http://bit.ly/cBIqhO

  4. Vanessa Hearnden

    RT @libcon: Majority Government or tabloid rule? http://bit.ly/cBIqhO

  5. Liberal Conspiracy

    Majority Government or tabloid rule? http://bit.ly/cBIqhO

  6. House Of Twits

    RT @libcon Majority Government or tabloid rule? http://bit.ly/cBIqhO

  7. Tweets that mention Liberal Conspiracy » Majority Government – or tabloid rule? -- Topsy.com

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  8. Hobhouse

    Majority Government or tabloid rule? Gameplans for tomorrow: http://bit.ly/cBIqhO #wearethemajority





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