Tuesday, May 11, 2010

UK Election :: The Politics of a "Coalition of Losers"

image:: Alex Salmond {Scottish National Party}, Caroline Lucas {Green Party}, and Ieuan Wyn Jones {Plaid Cymru} Photo: PA, via Telegraph-UK

Gordon Brown threw a monkey wrench into the Conservative's plans to create a Lib-Con coalition, which would have a majority in the UK Parliament. 

The Financial Times offered this eulogy of his career as a Labour kingpin. Brown resigned as Labour party leader, opening up the possibility for a Lib-Lab coalition. In order for a Lib-Lab coalition to be a majority, a "rainbow coalition" would have to join a Labour-based "coalition of losers."

I'm not convinced that either a Lib-Con or Lib-Lab coalition will be stable and have the ability to address the ongoing financial dire straits that the UK in currently in. I think it may be a tad disingenuous to label a Labour coalition as a "coalition of losers" or call into question an MP who wasn't elected. In my mind, this needs to be contextualized with respect to what the resultant platforms are and how they are supported by the coalition, the MPs, and the voters in the constituencies. While it could be said that the Labour platform lost, I think it's fine if parties after-the-fact {i.e., the election} alter their policies in an attempt to form a stable government, as long as the MPs and voters aren't disenfranchised. That's a tall order and keeping the coalition together on confidence votes may be tough.

The psychology of this interests me. The talk of the "stink of the loser" has connotations of a psychological perception of a bad reputation that needs to be distanced from. Additionally, the sociology of this is interesting. Does a party that alters its platform lose legitimacy, status, and trustworthiness? Moreover, what will the perceptions be of a resulting coalition? Won't a Lib-Con coalition turn off many Lib Dem MPs and voters aching for "change"? How will the distinct policy differences be reconciled?

In the US, there are ideological clusters but within the context of a two-party system. Conservatives, liberals, populists, and libertarians form amoeba-like clusters so the Republican and Democratic parties are ideological coalitions.

I'd like to see the UK parties try to form a coalition government and hammer out their differences, but the danger is that legislation in Parliament will resemble the intense dealmaking that goes on in the US Congress that has "back-room" connotations and a lack of transparency. I predict another election soon and also a grumbling electorate with many dissatisfied with both politics and policies. What will foster stability? Very little legislation.

Song:: The Dears-'You and I Are a Gang of Losers'

Twitterversion:: Is "coalition of losers" a misnomer in wake of #ukelection? Thoughts on govt. in light of an era of fragmented politics. @Prof_K

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