Monday, April 26, 2010

Coalitions don't just happen in wartime

It's been interesting watching the media coverage of the issue of no one party winning a majority at the election. Coalition government is on the agenda (though it is not a definite outcome of an election resulting in a "hung parliament"). Look at Scotland where there has been a minority government for three years.

Wartime coalition is often brought in to the media coverage of hung parliaments. However, coalition government does have peacetime precedents as well. In 1931, when the Labour government took leave of its senses in the face of an economic crisis arguably worse than the one we have just gone through, the Tories eagerly entered a coalition with the Liberals and those elements of the Labour party that realised posturing was not going to get Britain through an economic crisis.

There were a number of complex reasons why the Tories entered a coalition at the time. One of the main reasons was the coalition nature of the Conservative party itself. At the time there was an influential right wing element that was determined to undermine the Baldwin leadership. He sent them packing but also secured their long term exclusion from influence by bringing the Conservatives into coalition. The astute move also secured Baldwin's leadership.

The National Government has had mixed historical reviews but it did secure the economy and stop it from going down the pan. On the negative side was the appeasement policy of the government though it was a policy at the time that widely supported by the British people. (It was only later in the 1930s when people turned away from it.)

So, in Britain, coalition is not just a wartime precedent. They happen in peacetime as well.
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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

"economic crisis arguably worse than the one we have just gone through"

You think we have "just gone through" it Jonathan. This has just started...To think people are going to vote for the three main parties again when they ALL are saying "just gone through" when in truth it has just started (the pain to come) goes to show the electorate are being taken in by the lies off the three main parties...God help us.