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Coalition Possibilities

Currently, I am hoping for a Conservative majority. But with only 9 days left before the election and polls still very tight, a hung parliament looks to be the most likely outcome of the May election. Therefore, I thought I would run down coalition possibilities and give my opinion on each of them. Currently, according to Betfair percentages, the likelihood of a Conservative majority government is 10.2%, a majority Labour government 1.3%.

Labour minority government propped up by the SNP (and possibly Plaid Crymu, SDLP and the Greens)– The worst possible outcome of the election. This would be the government Michael Foot never achieved. Labour, with their already economically illiterate policies of rent controls, a 52% top tax rate, abolition of “non-dom” status, raising of corporation taxes, land seizures and energy price freezes, would likely be pushed even further to the left to meet Sturgeon’s demand to end “austerity.” The thought of agrand pact of socialists, propped up a party that wants to break up the United Kingdom and take away the nuclear deterrent is the worst of all worlds. Ed Miliband would basically become Britain’s (weak) Hugo Chavez. Betfair puts the odds of this scenario happening at 35.7%.

Conservative-Liberal Democrat Coalition– Not ideal, but the first coalition worked well. The UK economy is roaring ahead, a record amount of people are working, welfare-reform was passed, the deficit has been cut and education has been reformed. This option would provide stability and be good for the economy. However, besides general co-operation I am not really sure what the Liberals Democrats bring to the table. They are not likely to agree to boundary reform, will slow the pace of deficit reduction and are likely to block any further attempt to crack down on immigration, refuse to replace the European Human Rights act with  a British Bill of Rights and would likely water-down or shelve all together, English Votes for English laws. Bookies put the odds of this scenario occuring at 21.2%.

Conservative Minority Government– This would be the second best option to a Conservative Majority government in my opinion- if support came from the NI Unionists (Democratic and Ulster) at about 10 MPs, and UKIP, who is likely to have 1-4 MPs. This would require a strong showing from the Tories on election day- which is very possible given that undecideds tend to support the incumbent on polling day. Generally, the DUP could be trusted to be reliable supporters of this government because of their inherit conservativism– however the DUP is at its heart a regional party that sees Westminster as an ATM machine. Cameron would be right to be a weary of a party that opposes the abolition of the spare room subsidy (“bedroom tax”) and opposes English Votes for English laws (while supporting Northern Irish devolution).

A less stable minority gov would be the Conservatives propped up by the Lib Dems, Unionists and UKIP. This arrangement would likely not allow the passing of an EU referendum because the Lib Dems would not have to agree to support that as part of a coalition agreement. My guess is this situation would result in the passing of a budget then another election in October. This situation might be to the Conservatives benefit because of their money advantage over Labour and the public seeing government chaos first hand. The odds of a Conservative minority government, of any kind, are estimated to be at 13.5%.

Labour-Liberal Democrat Coalition– This possibility would be bad, but preferable to a grand left-wing pact. The Liberal Democrats would likely veto Labour’s more extreme policies, such as rent controls or attempts at the roll-back at welfare reform. However, I do not believe this coalition would be very stable, like the Tory-LibDem one was. The reason for this instability would be Labour’s ability, if it chose to, of getting its hard line policies passed against the Lib Dem wishes relying on SNP support. Frankly, I don’t see this coalition forming because of that possibility (the SNP are projected to have more seats than the Lib Dems). However, bookies put this possibility at 9.1%.

Conservative-UKIP Coalition: This would many on the right’s ideal pact. It would assure passage of a referendum on the European Union, and UKIP would be supportive of a broadly conservative agenda. However, with UKIP unlikely to capture many “golds” in the British first-past-the-post system there is unlikely be a scenario where UKIP will hold a sizable enough group of MPs to push the Conservatives over the top and form a government. Bookies put this scenario at 1.4%.

Other Possibilities- 7% chance of occurrence. 

National Unity Coalition of Conservatives and Labour– In Germany, they have had since National Unity coalitions since 2005. I frankly find this type of arrangement disgusting. At a time when the two parties have the most ideological difference between them since the 1980s, this type of government would be uninspiring and the ultimate type of “insider” politics. Although Sarah Wollaston and others have talked about this possibility, it is very unlikely to occur as activists and party leaders alike have scoffed at the idea.

Right Wing Alliance of Conservatives, NI Unionists and UKIP– It is possible that the Unionist and UKIP might demand, and Conservatives might accept in return for power, a full out coalition with the NI Unionists. I would imagine this would only be a possible outcome if UKIP say won 5 to 10 seats and the Conservatives couldn’t form a government with the supports of the NI unionists alone AND the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats failed to reach a second coalition agreement. This is very unlikely to happen.

Conservative-DUP-UUP coalition: This event would likely only occur if the DUP was threatening to vote for no-confidence without a full out coalition. Nigel Dodds and the DUP are ornery, as his article in the Guardian shows, but its hard to imagine him demanding full on coalition and not some kind of support and supply agreement. This scenario too would depend on the Lib Dems refusing to back the Conservatives, an unlikely scenario.

When it boils down to it, the chance of David Cameron and Ed Miliband becoming Prime Minister is 50/50. The best, most stable option for the UK is to elect a Conservative majority. The bottom line is that these coalitions and agreements could leave to government instability and chaos. However, a Conservative led government is 100 times preferable to a government led by Ed Miliband – a man so desperate for power that he is willing to be propped up by nationalists and even visits Russel Brand for support.

About Ted Yarbrough

Profile photo of Ted Yarbrough
Ted is the co-founder and editor of the Daily Globe. He is a long-time blogger on British politics and has written a thesis on Thatcherism. He is based in San Diego, California, USA.

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