Here we are seven days after the election and British politics has taken a turn few would have predicted. Yes, in the run up to polling day there was much speculation about a ‘hung Parliament’ and dire predictions for political instability for some time to come, even the odd murmurings of some form of ‘Coalition Government’. Finally after many anxious days and despite a few false dawns there is hope!
Last Thursday evening the polls closed at precisely 10pm and within a very short time news reports stated ‘difficulties’ in several major cities. Voters queuing to exercise their democratic right had been turned away and prevented from casting a vote. Resources were inadequate to deal with the voter turnout (high turnout was given at 72% in a few instances) and one polling station had even run out of ballot papers. A Victorian voting system was blamed, voters were blamed! International election observers expressed astonishment.
By Friday morning it was clear no party had an overall majority of Parliamentary seats. The number required to achieve this is 326, and the largest party, the Conservatives fell short with only 306 seats. Although the largest single party there was no automatic right for David Cameron to form the next Government. So the ‘horse trading’ began, with the leader of the Lib Dems, a party finishing in third place, being branded ‘Kingmaker’.
The British public watched and waited. The Prime Minister did not resign, would not resign. Those who enjoyed the privilege of power seemed reluctant to put country before self (perhaps my assessment is harsh). Talks were entered into, and continued and continued and continued. Comment and supposition as to who would provide the ‘best deal’ or the ‘best way forward’ began to appear. Still we watched and waited. Surely the electorate had spoken. Why would the Prime Minister not go!
Tuesday evening and all suddenly changed. Our Prime Minister Gordon Brown resigned. Resigned to the idea of not being able to command a governing majority, he resigned! Suddenly talk was all of a new Coalition Government, unheard of in British politics since the days of WWII.
Now as I write it is a bright and sunny day, the sky is blue, there is hope in the air. David Cameron has formed a power sharing government with Nick Clegg and both are putting the country before party politics. At last this is what we want to hear, a new government of combined talents. Then the first meeting of the cabinet agrees that ministers will take a 5% pay cut. Hurrah, begin to restore faith in politicians again. We all know the economy is fragile, there is a huge deficit to correct and that probably we, the electorate, have not been told the whole truth. But at least there is hope! Is the beast of politics tamed or merely dormant? We shall see.
PS. I still have to cast my vote. Here, one of the candidates suffered a fatal heart attack and voting cannot take place for another two weeks!