10th December 2019
During every general election in the United Kingdom the assumption of many pundits – and indeed voters – is that one party will win outright.
The view is that a party getting an overall majority is the norm to which there is sometimes an exception.
But looking at United Kingdom politics over the last decade, a hung parliament has been the norm, and an overall majority the exception.
Other than the two fateful years 2015-2017 – where a Conservative majority unleashed an In/Out referendum and the current botched Brexit – there has not been a party with a majority since 2010.
Indeed – in the twenty-three years since 1996, when John Major’s Conservative government lost its majority – the Conservatives have only managed an overall majority for those two years 2015-2017.
In two days time we will discover whether this period of hung parliaments has come to an end – or whether it will continue and perhaps become an age of hung parliaments.
The 2017-2019 parliament was one which especially showed the merits (and problems) of a hung parliament – and the current general election is, in effect, a howl of pain by the Conservatives (or its leader) that they could not get their own way.
Today it is difficult but not impossible to see how the Conservatives can gain the seats required for a substantial majority.
But if that happens, and a five-year term is secured, then the last decade will be seen as a blip.
But if there is yet another hung parliament, as in 2010 and 2017, then the 2015-2017 administration will be the blip.
And if hung parliaments become the norm then that will have profound effects on the nature of party politics and the business of governing.
At the moment, both the Conservatives and Labour parties are led by individuals who are are ill-fitted to lead coalitions, and the Liberal Democrats spend a great deal of time trying to explain away or apologise for their role in the 2010-15 coalition.
Like with the pundits and many voters, the view of the parties themselves is also that getting an overall majority is the norm to which there is sometimes an unfortunate exception.
We will find out shortly whether the parties and the pundits and many votes are right.
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