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The new line

Posted on February 05, 2015 by

The letter below is extraordinary, readers. See if it fits with what you remember.

asimplefact

From: Andrew.MacKintosh@scottish.parliament.uk
Subject: Hung Parliament
Date: Thu, 5 Feb 2015 12:03:13 +0000

[XXXXXXXXX]

Rhoda Grant thanks you for your email regarding the procedure following a UK General Election that leads to a ‘hung’ Parliament.

The guidance laid out in the House of Commons pamphlet – you refer to is an interesting read but deals mainly with constitutional conventions of the past.

The confusion comes about because the UK Constitution is one based on custom and practice rather than a written set of rules and so is amended by a change in practice

The matter is confused further by the role of the Monarch who, technically, appoints the Prime Minister.

Constitutionally, the Monarch can ask anyone to try and form a government but this is, usually, the leader of the largest party.

The Monarch has a constitution/formal role but no practical or political role and our constitution seems to give her a larger role than she actually has.

As we saw after the 2010 General Election – which is afforded only a few lines in the pamphlet – it became evident, very quickly, that the party with the biggest representation was demanding the right to have the first go at forming a Government

Gordon Brown, although technically PM,  protested but to no avail.

If you look at the experience in other countries, where coalition government is the norm, you will see that after an election there is a great wave of bargaining flowing between parties until a coalition is formed. This is despite of any set of constitutional rules that may be laid down.

The 2010 experience in the UK, by comparison, was an ordered transfer of power.

This was because it involved a coalition between two parties. After the next General Election, if the polls turn out to be true, we could have a number of parties involved in the power and policy auction that will form the next government. Negotiations may be protracted and complex but the party with the biggest representation will have the best chance of forming a government that will be able to “command the confidence of the House.

I am sure that UK Constitutional lawyers could argue these points for many hours but in politics numbers count above all other factors. In 2010, we saw that a government party that loses seats and is no longer the majority party, loses its right to be the government. It would seem safe to assume that the this convention will apply, if need be, after the next General Election.

Best wishes

Andrew Mackintosh

Andrew Mackintosh
Parliamentary Assistant
Office of Rhoda Grant MSP & David Stewart MSP
Representing the Highlands and Islands

Hmm. “Negotiations may be protracted and complex but the party with the biggest representation will have the best chance of forming a government that will be able to command the confidence of the House” is quite some distance from “It is a simple fact that the single biggest party gets to form a government”, isn’t it?

But we don’t think we remember Gordon Brown being prevented from trying to form a government in 2010 when he got almost 50 fewer seats than the Conservatives. We remember Labour negotiating frantically with the Lib Dems, while insisting that it was the right and proper “constitutional” thing to do.

murphycoalition

weedoug

We also recall Alistair Campbell getting into quite a ruckus with Adam Boulton of Sky TV while making the same point that it was up to the incumbent government to try to gather majority support. Gordon Brown didn’t stand down as Prime Minister because the Queen made him, he stood down because line 1 of the Lib Dems’ negotiating position was that he had to go or else.

We’ll be watching with interest to see if Scottish Labour’s campaign quietly switches to the new line, like “1000 more nurses than anything the SNP promise, no matter what” subtly morphed into the simpler and much less idiotic-sounding “1000 extra nurses”. We’re confident that the original untrue video will be removed from the party’s YouTube channel any minute now.

We’re sure they’ll never admit that they were lying and got caught red-handed. But if they try to stick to the lie, we’ll be there to remind them.

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    1. 05 02 15 16:40

      The new line - Speymouth

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      The new line | Politics Scotland | Scoop.it

    82 to “The new line”

    1. tartanfever says:

      I remember in 2010 Gordon Brown talking to Nick Clegg about a coalition.

      It didn’t happen for two reasons:

      1) Clegg thought that after the utter fiasco of Brown and Blair and the financial crash, Labour didn’t deserve to govern.

      2) Gordon Brown is known to be a hugely difficult character to deal with (that’s putting it politely). Nick Clegg knew fine well that working with Brown would prove impossible.

    2. Doug Daniel says:

      “Office of Rhoda Grant MSP & David Stewart MSP “

      Two MSPs for the price of one, eh? There’s a sight you don’t often see – Labour politicians minimising their expenses claims.

      Getting rid of one of them would minimise them even further, of course. Or both.

      Anyway, he’s wrong. The reason we got a Tory-Lib Dem coalition was simply because the Lib Dems felt they would be punished more severely for keeping Gordon Brown in power than putting the Tories in charge, and also because the Lib Dems had by that point already been completely overtaken by the “Orange Book” clan. Nick Clegg’s conference speeches before the 2010 election made it clear to anyone who paid attention that the Lib Dems were moving very decisively to the right.

      Besides, if the argument is that a governing party losing seats leads to it losing the moral right to govern, or whatever, then that’s completely in the hands of those who elect Tory MPs – i.e. not Scotland. The only way Scotland can stop the Tories losing MPs is to vote Tory rather than SNP – and I think we all know how likely that is to happen…

    3. Johnny says:

      “But we don’t remember Gordon Brown being prevented from trying to form a government in 2010 when he got almost 50 fewer seats than the Conservatives. We remember Labour negotiating frantically with the Lib Dems, while insisting that it was the right and proper “constitutional” thing to do”.

      Indeed, I do. So frightened was Nick Robinson of the prospect of them coming to some arrangement that he went on and on about how it would be a ‘coalition of the losers’ for hours on end. So, yes, I distinctly remember that Brown had his chance to make something work despite having far fewer seats.

    4. Mae Carson says:

      In 2010 the Tory/Libdem pact for a coalition was agreed in March before the election. Labour are attempting to re-write history to suit their own ends – again!

    5. Sandra says:

      The unwritten constitution is often portrayed as quaint, along with all the other Westminster anachronisms, but it’s simply not consistent with democracy. It really means they can make up the rules to suit themselves. When Scotland gets its independence I hope it has a written constitution to avoid this abuse.

    6. Murray McCallum says:

      They are attempting to re-write practice and ignore custom right in front of our eyes.

      The whole “vote SNP get Tories” shtick also flies in the face of a Gordon Brown “intervention” where Tory governments were a perfectly acceptable part of their UK vision.

      http://sputniknews.com/politics/20140914/192928906/Former-UK-Prime-Minister-Brown-Prefers-UKIPTory-Government-to.html

    7. Wullie says:

      Aye vote labour and jist get tory policies

    8. David Mooney says:

      There is no “constitution” and should not be referred to as such. Either Red or Blue Tories can decide what is in the non existent “constitution” and make it up to suit their own ends.

    9. Dr Ew says:

      There is no fucking constitution. There’s only Playing-fields-of-Eton-I-counted-them-inand-I-counted-them-out-sovereignty-of-the-Crown-in-Parliament-rebellious-Scots-to-crush-never-has-so-much-been-owed-by-so-many-to-the-fucking-City-of-London-don’t-mention-The Remembrancer-JK-Rowling-Norman-St-John-Stevas-wheel-out-David-Katie-Hopkins-Starkey-blah-blah-Olympics-1966-Bobby-fucking-Moore-bullshit that they can twist to suit themselves for any purpose.

      Magna Carta! Did she die in vain? Too fucking right!

    10. Macart says:

      Oh Jeez. 😮

      That’s outstanding Rev.

      As my auld granny would have said, ‘they’ve mair neck than a giraffe’.

    11. Macart says:

      @ Mae

      Good to see you.

      This is a beaut isn’t it? 🙂

    12. Devorgilla says:

      The letter is huge amount of double speak.

      ‘We have rules. It’s the largest party which the Queen will invite to form a government.
      No, we don’t have rules, we can make it up as we go along’.

    13. Tobias Hendry says:

      What’s with this “through the back door” nonsense. “Independance, through the back door.”, “David Cameron through the backdoor.”. How can you describe the party with the most seats forming a Government as “through the backdoor.”

    14. Donald McDonald says:

      You are in the work place, one of your managers is leaving in 3 months’ time. He makes statements to you that after he leaves prospects for you are going to be so bright you’re going to have to wear shades!

      In return he wants you to do X, Y and Z, some of these things you don’t go along with and might leave you vulnerable, but he assures you all will be well.

      You pause, you think and respond “but once you have retired, how can you make these things happen here”?

      He begins to bluster, ………..

      It needs to be driven home to the Scottish people that bungler browns’ promises are completely worthless! Then this message needs to be repeated frequently and firmly!

      D McD

    15. beachthistle says:

      “…We remember Labour negotiating frantically with the Lib Dems,…”

      I don’t remember getting the sense of Labour being frantic re negotiations they had with the Lib Dems in 2010. In fact I don’t recall a sense that Labour were seriously spending any energy, frantic or otherwise, on putting together/leading/being part of a coalition.

      I recall a vibe of Labour’s general weariness, them seemingly preferring a chance to go into opposition, to recharge their batteries while their Tory sparring partners did the heavy lifting of trying to make the most of the mess Broon and Darling had made…and in the process another plus for them: not having to go cap in hand/make alliances with parties they had historical baggage and petty political issues with. As such, it was Labour, through their weariness/laziness and narrow-mindedness, who gave/got us the present Tory-led regime, which makes their current ‘vote-SNP-get-Tory guff’ all the more difficult not to retch at.

      And don’t forget, when it comes to the UK there was and is nothing formally ‘constitutional’ about anything! As we know from UK civil servants’ biased antics during indyref, when it comes to defending the status quo/the neo-liberal consensus, there will always be ‘exceptional circumstances’ that mean that convention/custom/the ‘constitution’ can be immediately ‘justifiably’ cast aside, with no threat of a challenge about it being made by London MSM/BBC.

    16. The conventions mean nothing in the face of the numbers.

      We need to challenge the “largest party forms the govt” bull at every opportunity, and do so as succinctly as possible, before this pernicious canard sticks like shite to the political zeitgeist.

      1. The Party that commands a majority in the House will form the next government and that is not necessarily the largest party.

      2. Even minority governments must command a majority in votes of confidence and supply.

      3. It doesn’t matter who gets first dibs at forming a government. ALL that matters is which party or group of parties can command a majority in the House and win the confidence vote.

      4. Consider the following: Results May 7 2015 election

      Con 300
      Lab 280
      SNP 46
      Oth 24

      Lab + SNP = 326 = A MAJORITY OVER ALL OTHER PARTIES IN THE HOUSE OF COMMONS

      Since the SNP will ONLY prop-up a Labour government, there can ONLY be a Labour minority government OR a Lab/SNP coalition government, even though Labour are the SECOND largest party.

      If the Tories tried to form a minority government, they would immediately lose the necessary confidence vote (it would never come to that). There cannot possibly be a Conservative Government if the SNP hold the balance of power.

      It therefore is untrue, false, and complete bullshit, to assert that the largest party WILL form the next government. The largest party MAY form the next government, then again, it may not.

    17. Grizzle McPuss says:

      It’s just this kind of politico-speak that will cause many to stick to their tried & tested (and pointless…Scottish context) Lab vote.

      It’s the semantics of confusion and confuddledy.

      We are experiencing political party strategists at work, doing their usual damndest to forever move the goal-posts to suit their agenda. An agenda that has “keep the SNP out” as number one priority.

      I almost feel that we need an advertising campaign that directs many more to this site in order that they read, decipher and become informed.

      Let’s not forget that all this mis-speak bollocks will eventually be repeated on many a leaflet and pushed through the doors of the ill-informed.

    18. Dan Huil says:

      Just tell everyone to remember the 2010 election.

      Scotland: 41 Labour MPs out of 59.

      Result: A Tory/Libdem government.

      We won’t be fooled again.

    19. Devorgilla says:

      There are 650 seats. 326 is the magic number to have a tiny majority. If the Tories can’t raise that many then they will need to find coalition partners.

      If they are the largest party but still can’t muster an outright majority then the opposition combined could block anything they propose and UK would be ungovernable.

      In such circumstances then the next largest party could form a coaltion – if it can muster 326 from the rag-taggle of Irish, Scots, Welsh, Green, and LD MPs.

    20. Mark Coburn says:

      Wee Blue Book 2! Get it done asap.

      Fed up with all this crap. May can’t come soon enough.

    21. HandandShrimp says:

      FFS!

      There were TV cameras in No 10. We saw Gordon on the phone to Nick asking him to make his mind up because he (Gordon) had to go to the Queen. It was not a done and dusted deal and both Gordon and Dave had to woo Nick.

    22. David says:

      To Dr Ew,
      At 3:52,
      That’s a quality rant,
      Can I copy it from you?!

      David McGonagall

      Seriously, nice one, and just what the doctor ordered. Hope you don’t mind if it gets posted on my FBook page?

    23. Pentland Firth says:

      Mr Mackintosh and any other Labourites spinning this extraordinary version of constitutional reality should be invited to explain how Ramsay Macdonald managed to form the first Labour government in 1924 after the Labour party had finished in a distant second place to the Tories. Full details are available in James Kelly’s blog “Scot Goes Pop”.

      The inconvenient truth for Labour is that, if they manage to come a close second to the Tories in England, the only thing that will prevent them from entering into government is a petulant refusal to do a deal with the expected cohort of SNP MPs. Is that what they are threatening?

    24. I’m still wary of the SNP being perceived as ‘getting into bed’ with ANY unionist party. To quote a Jim Kelman title: ‘You have to be Careful in the Land of the Free’.

    25. Luigi says:

      This is just the start folks. The red tories and the BBC will go for broke now – to hell with any inconvenience like the truth, for example. This sick little message is going to be hammered home again and again, with the aim of chipping away at the SNP lead

      As the rev has demonstrated, red tory lies can be shot down fairly quickly. If it is crude and simple enough for a red rosette monkey to deliver in front of the cameras, then it is simple enough to disprove. The real challenge, however is to get the truth out to their target group – the vulnerable, generally older individuals that don’t do social media.

    26. Desimond says:

      You can quite easily picture David Cameron making the call to a smug Nigel Farage and some Ulster unionists. Meanwhile, Scottish Labour will continue to side with the Government rather than consider finding common ground with the SNP to make a viable opposition.

    27. Proud Cybernat says:

      It’s a simple fact that most of the time Scotland ends up with whoever England votes into power–our votes are generally meaningless and the Labour MPs we send to represent us even less so.

      I would rather have SNP MPs fighting tooth and nail against a Tory Govt than a bunch of Scottish Labour troughers whose only concern is checking on their expenses, fighting in WM bars and setting hotels on fire.

      PS – East Renfrewshire had an eclipse last week when Jim Murphy removed that week’s expenses from his wallet.

    28. paul gerard mccormack says:

      My mother told me that i was just to vote for the best (sic) man. That’s good enough for me.

    29. Kevin McDonald says:

      My political awakening is fairly recent but would someone mind explaining to me exactly what it is the Electoral Commissions responsibilities are if they:

      Allow parties to say what they want.
      Don’t correct misinformation on election processes.
      Don’t investigate suspicious election activity.

      The same holds true of the BBC trust who don’t investigate calls of bias.

      What are all these organisations for!?

    30. Grouse Beater says:

      For Greece read Scotland.
      For European parliament read Westminster
      For European Bank read UK Bank of England

      In a defiant first speech to his left-wing parliamentary group after returning empty-handed from a European tour, Tsipras said Athens was no longer open to being told what to do.

      “Greece won’t take orders any more, especially orders through emails,” he said. “Greece is no longer the miserable partner who listens to lectures to do its homework. Greece has its own voice”.

      In an apparent reference to the tough stance taken by the European Central Bank and others, Tspiras said: “Greece cannot blackmailed because democracy in Europe cannot be blackmailed.”

    31. Alex Smith says:

      Slight misprint in the title – should it not read “The New Lie”?

    32. thedogphilosopher says: “I’m still wary of the SNP being perceived as ‘getting into bed’ with ANY unionist party. To quote a Jim Kelman title: ‘You have to be Careful in the Land of the Free’.”

      The electorate EXPECTS the SNP to get into bed with a Unionist party, either in coalition or confidence and supply. If it does not it cannot influence legislation. There has to be a deal made if one can be made (with Labour).

      In the event no deal can be brokered, then other than making a lot of noise, the SNP cohort will be impotent.

      That might end up being the most advantageous outcome in terms of speeding the path to indyref 2.0, since it will mean the only path left to meaningful autonomy is to seek independence.

    33. Marcia says:

      I get the feeling that Dr Ew is a tad annoyed.

    34. TJenny says:

      Tobias Hendry – ‘What’s with this “through the back door” nonsense’?

      Anal retention?

    35. Rookiescot says:

      It might be my old and failing memory but I seem to recall the tories and lib dems admited they had been in discusion about coalition even before the vote was held.

      Is that right or did I just dream it ?

    36. Skip_NC says:

      Greetings from Raleigh, North Carolina. Does the fixed term parliament legislation (which obviously happened after the 2010 election) change anything?

    37. Luigi says:

      Desimond says:
      5 February, 2015 at 4:42 pm

      You can quite easily picture David Cameron making the call to a smug Nigel Farage and some Ulster unionists. Meanwhile, Scottish Labour will continue to side with the Government rather than consider finding common ground with the SNP to make a viable opposition.

      Yep, I would say that is a possible scenario. However, if the red tories refuse, out of spite, to cut a deal with a large, democratically elected SNP group at WM, and let the tories back in (again), this will not go down well at all in Scotland.

      In any case, a hung parliament would probably lead to another GE within a year – perhaps yet another opportunity for the people of Scotland to kick the red tory arse.

    38. Clootie says:

      Labour were terrified of a coalition with the LibDems in 2010. They did not want to remain in power. It was their turn in opposition throwings rocks and blaming others.

      Turns each in power / same policies / great expenses / flipping houses / promised jobs at the end of the trough feeding /same pay and the chance of a seat in the Lords. A great life

      …then along came those bloody Nats asking “what about the people of Scotland”

    39. Desimond says:

      @Luigi

      Yip, could be ideal….The Scottish people say “We choose a future of SNP and Labour working together…The SNP are an open minded group..what do you say Labour?” and Labour say “We choose Westminster above all”…well then the 2016 Scottish Elections promise not to just re-open the referendum door but blow it to smithereens and no amount of flannel by the BBC or Gordon Vown can save it!

    40. thedogphilosopher says:

      @ Christian Wright

      Good points, well put.

      I’d still be more comfortable if the SNP formed a bloc with Plaid Cymru and The Greens so as to negotiate from a democratic platform quite distinct from any Unionist stance. My worry is they might become the unfortunate patsies if things go pearshaped. They need to protect themselves from UKOK hostility, especially any Brit media distortion.

    41. heraldnomore says:

      And I remember that Labour knew exactly what mess they’d left behind…

    42. Joemcg says:

      Don’t know how we cannot counter with Vote No get Tory. They would have NEVER governed us again if we had won.

    43. Heidstaethefire says:

      Could you give us Ms Grant’s email, it would be helpful to discuss this further.

    44. Grouse Beater says:

      Dogphilosopher: My worry is they might become the unfortunate patsies

      I read that as ‘pasties’ and assumed Cornwall wanted to join the group. 🙂

    45. Albaman says:

      We can all thank our lucky star’s that Stew and his “sleuths”, are so switched on to the political shenanigans of the unionist parties, I think it is such a missed opportunity that “The National” does not use some of Stew’s forensic dismembering of the, what can only be described as—lies!.
      Aye, and put it on the front page!!.

    46. Johnny says:

      If Scotland votes SNP and Labour won’t deal, even the dimmest person in Scotland will see at last that not Labour and not any of the other unionist parties has any interest or intention of making life better for the people of Scotland.

      One may ask why Labour would/should care about what we think given that (as we all know) they usually get elected if ENGLAND wants it. Fair question, but again even the dimmest person (and I include those down south who affect to believe in the subsidy myth in this) must realise that Scotland has to have been worth all the hassle they expended in keeping hold of it. There’s the fact that Scotland is wealthier than they pretend, but there’s more to it than that.

      The reason they dread May is that too many truths about how they treat people both north and south of the border may come out if people minded to share them are elected to Westminster. For these reasons, any truly dissenting voices must be rubbished.

    47. Ian Brotherhood says:

      @Dr Ew (3.52) –

      🙂

    48. jim heraghty says:

      My memory of 2010 is of Jim Murphy on my TV screen just before the poll saying ‘vote Labour to keep the Tories out.’

      Then, very soon after the poll, it is of John Reid and David Blunkett on my TV screen indicating that it was NOT IN THE INTERESTS OF THE LABOUR PARTY to continue with coalition talks with the Liberal Democrats.

      So that which the Scottish voter had been promised came second.

      Since he is repeating the mantra,Jim Murphy apparently doesn’t care that he got it wrong.(Did he care at the time?)

      If people can remember the above clearly, why on earth would they pay any attention to him saying the same thing AGAIN?

    49. Cadogan Enright says:

      I see Margaret Curran is getting a great response. https://www.facebook.com/MargaretCurranForGlasgowEast/posts/1539944299591444

    50. manandboy says:

      There are so many lines in Kipling’s ‘If’
      which resonate with this time in Scotland’s struggle
      to be free of Westminster’s hold over us.

      I could easily spend an hour just walking my thoughts
      slowly through these verses
      I find them to be a good pick-me-up.

      If — Rudyard Kipling

      If you can keep your head when all about you
      Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
      If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
      But make allowance for their doubting too;
      If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
      Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
      Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
      And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:

      If you can dream—and not make dreams your master;
      If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim;
      If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
      And treat those two impostors just the same;
      If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
      Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
      Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
      And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools:

      If you can make one heap of all your winnings
      And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
      And lose, and start again at your beginnings
      And never breathe a word about your loss;
      If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
      To serve your turn long after they are gone,
      And so hold on when there is nothing in you
      Except the Will which says to them: ‘Hold on!’

      If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
      Or walk with Kings—nor lose the common touch,
      If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
      If all men count with you, but none too much;
      If you can fill the unforgiving minute
      With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
      Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
      And — which is more — you’ll be a Man, my son!

    51. Imagine people in England were crazy enough to elect lots of people from the fringe parties all over the place to such an extent that the SNP, with around 50 MPs were the largest party.

      Do you think it would be a simple fact that they would get first go?

    52. Devorgilla says:

      Skip – since the UK ‘constitution’ is basically ‘the sovereignty of parliament’ meaning ‘no parliament can bind another’ or, parliament reserves the right to make up the rules to suit itself, the fixed term parliament act doesn’t really change anything, because the next, incoming government, can decide to abolish the act if it wishes.

      They consider this ‘constitution’ to be freer and superior to yours, because yours is bound by unalterable rules.

      But from a more critical perspective, some of us here feel that this means there is basically no check on the executive. Which is why the US decided on a constitution.

    53. ronnie anderson says:

      SoS Rev for going O/T

      b4in.info/hk0j.

    54. jimnarlene says:

      They don’t like it upem.

    55. Cadogan Enright says:

      @jim heraghty 5.59 “Since he is repeating the mantra,Jim Murphy apparently doesn’t care that he got it wrong.(Did he care at the time?)”

      It’s boring, but we just have to keep reminding the MSM asking them why they are not asking this (and other) questions – write to papers, individual journalsts (politely) and STV/BBC

      Consider it an advanced form of canvassing. If you do it on a freezing cold or rainy night it can feel like luxury compared to canvassing or leafletting

      just 1 success could make a difference

    56. BrianW says:

      Just a shower of self serving wanks who say what ever to who ever.

      Then the BBC will print it word for word with Torquil hovering in the background licking up the slime juice of what ever Labour MP just slid by – Maybe Margaret on her way to a “Bombs Not Bairns Lunch”, or Jim on his way not to vote on…well, take your pick, Jim’s not voted on much of anything.

      As folk would say.. Mair Faces Than The Toon Clock..

      They really are beyond parody – spitting image wouldn’t know where to start with this mob!

    57. Roger Mexico says:

      Skip_NC says:
      Does the fixed term parliament legislation (which obviously happened after the 2010 election) change anything?

      Yes quite a bit. Effectively it formalises the existing procedures. Under previous rules, it would have been theoretically possible for the current PM to ask the Palace for another election at any time that suited him if he couldn’t get a majorty together. There was no formal requirement to give anyone else the chance to form a government. In practice the Palace would possibly have tried to ‘disuade’ the sitting PM from this, but Cameron could still try for it particularly with media backing.

      Now if Cameron can’t put a government with a credible potential majority together or if he loses a vote of confidence in the Commons, the Leader of the Opposition has to be given the chance to put a majority together first – and possibly other politicians may try as well. Only if a government can’t be put together within 14 days after the loss of a vote of confidence is a fresh election automatically called. If another prospective government fails a vote in that time the 14 days start again.

      (If any of this sounds familiar, it’s because it is the system covering the same circumstances in the Scottish Parliament. The Lib Dems originally proposed some daft scheme with 55% that didn’t work, so they ended up copying the Scots).

      All this means that the idea that the Party with most MPs ‘has to’ form the government is even more untrue than it was in 2010. Now there is a legal obligation to give other politicians the chance and the PM can’t go running to Mrs Windsor asking for a Get Out of Jail Free Card.

    58. Fireproofjim says:

      @manandboy
      Thanks for Kipling’s “If”
      I knew it long ago, but some lines just resonate with current experience.

      “Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies.”
      “If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
      Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools”.
      “Lose and start again at your beginnings”

      It’s all there.

    59. O/T – Sorry

      @manandboy – At age 15 I joined the Royal Navy at HMS Ganges, that poen ”IF” was on either side of the stage in the gymnasium (2 verses either side). On our first visit to the gym we were made to stand facing the stage and read those verses to ourselves, for 5 minutes.

      I have never forgotten that poem and intend to write it down and frame it and give it to my Grandson on his 16th birthday.

      I believe the poem was about the Jamieson raid during the boer war.

    60. Craig P says:

      paul gerard mccormack says:

      My mother told me that i was just to vote for the best (sic) man. That’s good enough for me.

      Sound advice there. Twice in my voting life that would have been the Tory candidate, and not many of the rest of the times the SNP candidate.

      But most folk vote with a party and leader in mind over a local candidate. I voted for Lloyd Quinan SNP in Dumbarton for example because I wanted independence, but the man himself was less impressive than either the Tory or Labour candidates.

      Hopefully there is a better calibre of SNP candidate in 2015.

    61. davidb says:

      Oh for goodness sake, this is such crap. Even if the Conservatives are the biggest party the way our system works, they have to pass a budget and they have to have the confidence of the H of C. So are Labour taking the position now that they will be so hissy if they don’t win that they will back a conservative budget and any confidence motion? So they are offering Mr Cameron a Confidence and Supply arrangement?

      These people are infantile. They don’t deserve to run a school tuck shop, never mind a Government. The sooner we get out of this union the better.

    62. Fergus says:

      An easy question for Labour.

      Say Election results were: (326 seats is majority)
      Labour 275
      Tory 250
      LibDem 100
      Others 25

      Tory/LibDem both want to continue their coalition.

      Who forms the Government? [answer Tory/LibDem]

      Blows Labour’s fact out the water…

    63. Craig P says:

      Also… there *is* a constitution… it’s just unwritten. The rules are simple, and discovered by asking – does what happen next benefit the establishment?

      Right now it helps the establishment to say that only the largest party can form the government, as this is the only defence they have against their mortal mutual enemy, the SNP.

      However once the election is over, it helps the establishment to get the conservatives back in, so the rules may, or may not, change at that point.

      Such is the beauty of an open, flexible, unwritten constitution.

      Hope that clears things up for those of you trying to get your heads round the UK ‘constitution’.

    64. HandandShrimp says:

      These are stills from the same period I mentioned above

      http://www.theguardian.com/politics/gallery/2010/may/12/gordon-brown-labourleadership

      Notice a certain Douglas Alexander is present….although he may have suffered amnesia due to flying phones…who knows?

    65. mike says:

      Dr EW
      that is going on a t-shirt.

    66. Barbara McKenzie says:

      Granted, Clegg did say in 2010 that he was going to go with the largest party. A similar situation arose in New Zealand: voters were totally disillusioned with the Labour party, which had moved to the right long before the UK equivalent, and many saw NZ First as being more left wing (in some ways), or least more attuned with voters’ concerns. So NZ First got a huge protest vote from Labour voters, who were hoping that they would keep Labour honest. When NZ First announced it would go with the ‘largest party’, being the NZ Tory equivalent, there was great disappointment and NZ First was voted out of existence in the next election, with no seats. (Well almost, because they have since made a strong comeback.)

      Likewise UK Labour voters began to see Libdems as the most left-wing alternative, only to see them get into bed with the Tories. And they will suffer accordingly.

      As you have pointed out, the Tories got to form a government in 2010, not because they were the largest party, but because the Libdems themselves chose to use that as a guideline, or excuse. This did not stop Labour doing their best to talk them into going into coalition with them.

      If the Tories prove to be the largest party after GE 2015, and the only viable third party is SNP, then there are several possible scenarios.

      1) SNP forms government with Tories.

      Failing this, the ball is firmly in the Labour court.

      2) They can go into coalition with SNP
      3) They can go into coalition with the Tories
      4) They can force a new election

      Labour needs to persuade the electorate that 1) is a likely scenario, i.e. that SNP are lying when they discount the possibility of propping up a Tory government. Given the respect enjoyed by Sturgeon and Salmond over this is quite a task.

      Others have already pointed out that the chance of Labour refusing to form a government are slim, so we can discount 4)

      Which leaves us wondering, of course, which of 2) and 3) Labour would go for. And if 3), what would be the future of the Labour Party.

    67. ronnie anderson says:

      Had Labour been successful in forming a coalation in the last election Gordon Brown would have been a PM by default as he never stood for election as PM.

    68. K1 says:

      Barbara, if 3 became the case Scotland would be in direct opposition to the rUK in effect. I would want the SNP to declare a referendum on Independence following that scenario. As we would effectively have no representation in the unionist government, it would become Scotland in opposition. May as well be independent then.

    69. Richardinho says:

      Much as I disagree with Alisdair Campbell, that video is still comedy gold!

    70. Fred says:

      @Dr Ew, missed oot Jeremy Clarkson.

    71. Brian Doonthetoon says:

      Typing about ‘comedy gold’…

      Why is it, whenever I see Alastair Campbell in a video clip, I don’t see him, but see the character, playing the part of the spin doctor on ‘Bremner, Bird and Fortune’, who rose to acting fame in “Dinner Ladies”?

    72. Tam Jardine says:

      K1 

      I agree – I would go further though. If labour and the Conservatives form a ‘government of national unity’ we should march on parliament and declare UDI immediately. I don’t really fancy officially living in a one party state.

      Of course it would be funny seeing all those pricks have to squeeze in to the government benches whilst the SNP lounge about in comfort on the opposition benches.

    73. Robert Peffers says:

      @Johnny says: 5 February, 2015 at 3:42 pm:

      … Indeed, I do. So frightened was Nick Robinson of the prospect of them coming to some arrangement that he went on and on about how it would be a ‘coalition of the losers’ for hours on end.” But, Johnny, you cannot believe a single word the proven liar Nick Robinson says.

      Here’s a wee co-incidence of that fact. I trained my wee Papillon bitch to be my ears as I cannot hear certain higher frequencies. I did this by making such things as the Microwave oven that I knew made noise that I couldn’t hear beep and then acting excited and saying, “What’s that? What’s that?, Now when these things make their noises she barks and runs to them.

      So after Nick Robinson lied about not getting an answer from Alex Salmond I took to shouting, “Liar! Liar! whenever Robinson came on. The wee dog now runs at the radio or TV and barks at it when Robinson comes on.

      Mind you she also does the same when the footballs on. Seems she associates my excitement with her duty to act as my ears.

    74. K1 says:

      Aye Tam, justifiable UDI in that scenario, I was being ‘diplomatic’ as is my wont. I don’t even want our lot having to go into that cesspit but needs must to get us out soonest.

      I just keep asking that question: Did we win? These polls defy their narrative on the 18th, as did my gut on the day.

      I trust my gut.

    75. Stoker says:

      K1,
      Seen your post on the other thread, re: the protest against the British Bullshit Corporation. Great stuff, the more the merrier.
      😉

    76. Stoker says:

      K1,
      Seen your post on the other thread, re: the protest against the British Bullshit Corporation. Great stuff, the more the merrier.
      https://www.facebook.com/events/779063018851870/?pnref=story
      😉

    77. manandboy says:

      In the Editorial in The National, on Thursday,
      Richard Walker, among other things,
      said this about the Labour Party:-
      But we did, at one stage, have higher expectations of Labour.
      The referendum campaign, however, laid bare the truth
      about Labour in Scotland:
      that it will do anything to preserve the Union,
      including standing side by side with it’s arch enemy,
      talking down the country’s prospects
      and reacting with undisguised glee
      at economic problems such as the falling oil prices.

      Many of those who voted No in the referendum
      did so with a heavy heart.
      Events since have opened their eyes.
      It’s hardly surprising how they plan to vote in May.”

      Not everyone is always happy with The National,
      and I am one of that number.
      But when I read the words quoted above,
      what reservations I had about The National, left me.

      Richard Walker is doing a good job with The National.
      I hope he continues to do so.
      And as he does so, he will have my support.

      The National supports the Independence movement – 1.6 million of us.
      The Independence movement ought to support The National.

      Tell you what. Why not buy a copy of The National every day
      from now until May 8th. That’s only 13 weeks.

      Every day on TV,
      we allow Scotland’s biggest critics and detractors
      into our living rooms, and pay for it too.

      Why not let a supporter of Scotland, Richard Walker,
      come in as well, in The National.

    78. KennyG says:

      “The UK constitution is one based on custom and practice, rather than a written set of rules and so is amended by a change in practice”.

      I wonder what would happen if law worked the same way.

    79. Christian Schmidt says:

      “If you look at the experience in other countries”

      Oh, may I?

      Ireland: Largest party in every election up to 2011 – Fianna Fail. Government 1948-51, 1954-57, 1973-77, 1982-87, 1994-97 – Fine Gael-led coalition

      Sweden: largest party in every election since WW2 – Social Democrats. Government 1976-82, 1991-94, 2002-10 – Moderate Party-led coalition

      Luxembourg: Largest party are Christian Democrats, but in opposition

      Germany: 1969-72, 1976-83: Christian Democrats largest party, Social Democrats lead federal government

      German states: Current 4/12 largest parties in opposition

      Norway, Denmark, Finland, Netherlands, Belgium all had the largest party in opposition. Belgium currently has the largest party as junior partner in the coalition, with the 3rd (by seats) or 5th (by votes) largest party having the prime minister’s office and half the cabinet…

      The list could go on and on and on…

    80. Calgacus says:

      Great rant Dr Ew, I would buy one of those t-shirts.

      If the SNP go into a coalition government at Westminster do they get to see the books and all the durty wee secrets? 😉

    81. Brian says:

      Many months on I continue to be regularly heartened and impressed by the quality of the investigative journalism on this site. I just love seeing these liars and deceivers being put to the sword.
      I would also love to see Wings, Bella, Bateman and others form their own coalition in the runin to May. Strength in numbers, plus that really would get public attention.



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