General election 2015

Game of chicken or consensus politics?

If tomorrow’s general election produces a result where the only two-party coalitions possible are the grand coalition / national government between the Conservatives and Labour, or a Conservative-SNP coalition, or even a Labour-SNP coalition, then the next UK government is likely to be a minority or a minority coalition government. The bookies favour a Labour minority government, because an anti-Tory majority composed of Labour, the SNP, Plaid Cymru, and the Greens is very likely.

The composition of the new government will depend on the most convincing narrative that emerges regarding the ‘proper’ way of forming the new government: party strategists must be working furiously at the moment, running different scenarios, in order to get out that carefully calibrated message before everyone else to shape the dominant political narrative. It will be quite fascinating.

Once the next UK government – most likely without an absolute majority in the Commons – is formed, Westminster politics may well beome a constant game of political chicken to gain a relative majority over the opposition parties especially in motions of confidence and supply. To put it rather simplistically, if a Labour or a Labour-led minority government is formed, then it will dare the SNP to vote against it, after the SNP essentially vetoing the Conservatives from remaining in office and in effect installing Labour in office, and if a Conservative or a Conservative-led minority government is formed, it will dare Labour to vote against it along with the SNP. The opposition parties will be far more potent and important.

Or may be, just may be, the confrontational yah-boo politics interesting as a circus but puts people off will be replaced by a more deliberative and consensus-oriented politics? The government will seek to incorporate some of the opposition ideas, and the opposition parties will seek to influence the government rather than just playing the opposition, in order to attain a consensus? Now that is probably too optimistic.