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Submitted by Alex Helling on 14 May 2015
Well that did not go exactly as expected… now I have a half written Debatabase debate about whether the largest party should go into coalition or form a minority government. This is clearly scuppered by a Conservative majority government that has been formed. The Conservatives contrary to the public polls managed to gain a majority of 15 with a total of 331 seats in the House of Commons (minus one for the speaker), so much for things being neck and neck.
But will things really be all that different from the question of coalition vs minority? In some ways no. Every political party is a coalition of disparate groups and interests; how could a national party not be? And the Conservatives are broader than many UK parties. The Conservatives are the UK’s centre right party. However with the exception of extremists there has until recently not been a party to the Conservatives right. As such they stretch from very near the centre to quite far right.
The Conservatives have a liberal side, which David Cameron himself is usually towards; this is a party of free trade although individual liberty is increasingly less of a concern due to security worries. It is however a concern if you go a bit to the right to find more libertarian MPs such as David Davis who is concerned about the state’s intrusion on individuals rights. And of course the Conservatives have a right wing, one that has been getting larger, with members such as Peter Bone and John Redwood. This is a side of the party that is quite close ideologically to UKIP; they want to restrict immigration and leave the EU, and go much further in dismantling the state.
Of course all these disparate elements can agree on some things; the need for an EU referendum - but not whether to vote for in or out when it happens, that free enterprise and the free market is a fundamentally good thing – but not how much state intervention is needed to round off the hard edges and protect the poor, and on the need to keep the nation together in one United Kingdom – but not on how to do that.
But then a coalition with the Liberal Democrats could agree on some of the same things, the exact point of maximum support would just have been located a bit further to the left on the spectrum. So what we have is a coalition. Just not a coalition of the kind that was being discussed before the election.
Still not the kind of coalition I was writing about in the Debatabase debate, so it will have to wait!