There's talk in the opinion pages about the possibilities of coalitions between parties in Parliament, some of which are quite disturbing. A key example is Benedict Brogan's in the Telegraph here. The quote I'd really like to draw your attention to, and which I think does not work in the context of a coalitions is this:
What we should all focus on is the message emerging from Brown Central, that a deal between the two big losers – Labour and Lib Dems – is possible, and could even include a new Labour leader to make it ‘acceptable’. The idea that we would be governed by a coalition of losers led by someone who was not among the three leaders who paraded themselves on telly should have us reaching for our pitchforks.
Here's the point - a coalition government is where parties who are broadly aligned work together. A coalition of two smaller parties working together has an absolutely legitimate mandate when the coalition is larger than a largest single party.
In this case, if the Liberal Democrats are the party who can bridge the gap to a majority, then the seat count becomes less important when it comes to determining weight within a coalition. Look at the shares of the popular vote which each party received (from the BBC here):
- Conservatives - 10,681,417 - 36.1%
- Labour - 8,601,441 - 29.1%
- Liberal Democrats - 6,805,665 - 23%
These are the numbers of people who backed each party, rather than the number of seats they won. A ConLib coalition would have 17,487,082 voters backing them, 59.1% of the turnout, dwarfing Labour. A LabLib coalition would have 15,407,106 voters backing them, 52.1% of the turnout, and that would dwarf the Conservatives.
If the Tories cannot work in a coalition with the Liberal Democrats, but Labour can, then the Tories do not have the mandate to govern.
Listened to this on Radio 4 earlier, and it's something that's worth recommending to other people. It's a Radio 4 documentary covering the personal impact on MPs following the expenses scandal. As the intro says, not the details, but the human side of the story.
I'm catching up on stuff which I've noted down before and thought "Damn, that's interesting - must share that with people." This is one of those things which you read and feel both impressed and depressed by. Pretty persuasive evidence from the Washington Post that the Iranian elections were rigged, from looking at last digit analysis.
This may seem strange, because these digits usually don't change who wins. In fact, last digits in a fair election don't tell us anything about the candidates, the make-up of the electorate or the context of the election. They are random noise in the sense that a fair vote count is as likely to end in 1 as it is to end in 2, 3, 4, or any other numeral. But that's exactly why they can serve as a litmus test for election fraud. For example, an election in which a majority of provincial vote counts ended in 5 would surely raise red flags.
Why would fraudulent numbers look any different? The reason is that humans are bad at making up numbers. Cognitive psychologists have found that study participants in lab experiments asked to write sequences of random digits will tend to select some digits more frequently than others.
Full article here.