Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Missed Post - and an Election

Oh dear - for the first time since starting this blog years ago, I broke my rule of posting something at least once every month.

As David Young discussed on his blog, I too blame the ever growing popularity of Facebook - particularly for random self-indulgent blogs like this one that have no theme, no dedicated audience, and are really just vanity publishing albeit on-line. Facebook is great for random thoughts and instant feedback.

None the less this blog has given me a lot of pleasure, and it's fun to discover what seemed important two, three or even four years ago. Rather like a seldom kept diary, I'm loathe to throw it away or declare it officially closed.


So what is on my mind right now? Well like most thoughtful people, there is the little matter of the election tomorrow. Unlike the past two or three elections, the outcome is still in some doubt, although it seems pretty certain we'll have a new Prime Minister at the end of it, and most probably a new government.

Here's a prediction based on observations of every election since 1979.

The Conservatives will win tomorrow, and David Cameron will move into No 10 over the week-end.

This may surprise you, as the media is still excited with the prospects of a hung Parliament, and possibly Nick Clegg's Liberal Democrats (are there any non democratic liberals?) making some kind of breakthrough.

The reason I don't think this will happen is because the British first past the post system is fiendishly difficult for a third party to crack open. I'm speaking from personal experience here, having been involved in the Liberal/Social Democratic alliance between David Steel and David Owen back in the 1980s. We got to within 2% of the Labour Party and were rewarded with... 17 seats. That's how close you can be with a first past the post system and still end up nowhere.

Despite this I'm still a fan of the first past the post system and of British politics. Why? Because coalition government frequently produces a terrible inertia, or worse (as in the case of Israel) various bigots and extremists end up holding the balance of power and are able to extract huge and loathsome concessions from a party with a far larger majority. It's difficult to imagine the reforms of Clement Attlee or Margaret Thatcher taking place in a coalition system. At least one of the coalition parties would have lost their nerve.

Secondly, the British system has Prime Minister's questions, which is a wonderful really tough I.Q and conviction test. It basically protects us from charismatic fuckwits like George W Bush, Sarah Palin, Ronald Reagan, "Ambassador" Alan Keyes and so on. They wouldn't last five minutes in Parliament, as George Galloway showed when he verbally destroyed a group of stunned U.S Senators a few years ago.

Interestingly, I believe Bill Clinton and Barack Obama would have faired very well under the British system, although there's no real way of testing that.

Anyway, lets have the election tomorrow and see what happens. I'll try and post something here on election night - which I intend to watch downstairs in a sleeping bag!