Wednesday, May 05, 2010
Why a hung Parliament will NOT be a danger to Britain
This piece of mine appears in The First Post.
It'll be the end of the world as we know it. Britain will be plunged into severe economic crisis. There'll be a run on the pound and we will suffer the same ignominious fate as Greece.
So go the dire warnings propagated by the Tory media of what will happen if Britain's voters fail to fulfill their patriotic duty and give David Cameron an overall majority in Thursday's general election.
But like other right-wing tactics down the years, it's a claim that doesn’t bear close scrutiny. The notorious 1924 'Zinoviev letter', threatening Communist agitation, turned out to be a forgery. The warnings in 1983 that a nuclear-disarmed Britain would leave us defenceless against a Soviet invasion, and the Sun’s front-page headline in 1992 - "If Kinnock wins today, will the last person to leave Britain please turn out the lights" - were scaremongering ploys of the lowest order.
Far from being a national disaster, there's a strong case for arguing that a hung parliament - which on the eve of the election is an odds-on bet at some bookmakers - would actually be very good news for Britain. Let's take a look at the historical precedents.
It's simply not true to say that the last time we had a minority government propped up by the Liberals - in the 1970s - it was an abject failure which led to 'paralysis', as Dominic Sandbrook maintains in Wednesday's Daily Mail.
The 1977/8 Lib-Lab pact, which sustained James Callaghan's Labour administration in power, was in fact extraordinarily successful: during that time both inflation and unemployment fell and the general economic outlook improved considerably.
And what on earth was wrong with Britain's wartime coalition governments? Did they lead to weakness and instability? Those who argue that 'strong' single-party governments always out-perform 'weak' coalitions really ought to get out more - at least across the English Channel.
Can anyone seriously maintain that Britain, with its 'strong' governments over the past 30 years, has been better governed than the likes of Germany, Austria and The Netherlands, where coalitions have been the norm? The Cameron-backing press conveniently neglects to mention that the Hellenic Republic doesn't have a 'weak' coalition ruling the country, but a supposedly 'strong' one-party government.
You can read the rest of the piece here: