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14 May 2010

UK GENERAL ELECTION - It's the Dave & Nick Show!

Well, that has been the weirdest General Election I have ever experienced. Usually a national "swing" from one Party to another is easily discernible, and once you've a dozen or constituency results in you can see which way the whole thing is likely to end up.

But not this time. There was no discernible pattern.

Some seats went from Conservative to Labour, others from Labour to Conservative, others from Labour to Liberal Democrat, others from Liberal Democrat to Conservative. In two adjacent London constituencies previously held by Liberal Democrats, one was defeated by a Conservative, and the other increased his Liberal Democrat majority. In the north of England one seat experienced a 20% swing (almost unheard of) from Conservative to Liberal Democrat.

The vagaries of the British electoral system resulted in the Liberal Democrats increasing their national vote and ending up with fewer seats than before. Gordon Brown's Labour Party suffered the biggest losses, though were spared the predicted wipe-out. David Cameron's Conservative not only got the biggest share of the national vote but also gained the most seats, and yet were denied a working majority in the House of Commons.

Nick Clegg's Liberal Democrats did a deal with the Tories to form Britain's first Coalition Government since the second World War. I am fairly comfortable with that, considering their combined votes represents 60% of the electorate, and in the serious circumstances in which we find ourselves it is imperative that we have a strong government that can take the necessary decisions and actions.

I've no time for the Liberal Democrat complainers who say they have been betrayed. What do they want? Have they enjoyed their years of impotence?

No Liberal Democrat (or their predecessors) has been able to gain a position of power within the lifetime of most us. Now we have the rare and exciting occurrence of Liberal Democrats being in a position to influence affairs, with five sitting in the Cabinet, and many others in junior ministerial positions. Moreover we now have a Liberal Democrat Deputy Prime Minister. This has been the stuff of dreams for generations.

I hope this will usher in a new era of civilized politics. The new Coalition has made a good start by taking a 5% reduction in salary of all government ministers, frozen for five years; I also applaud the proposed introduction of fixed-term parliaments (thus taking away from the Prime Minister the right to call an election any time he sees fit to suit his own purpose). Both the Tories and the Lib-Dems have had to sacrifice some of their extreme and cherished policies. Good.

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