We’ve been assured for weeks by the British media the coming election is a done deal for the Tories. They’ve had a consistently sizeable polling lead over Labour. Additionally, Boris has a measurable positive public rating and Corbyn a hugely negative one. Numerous past and some present Labour grandees and MPs have urged their traditional supporters to abandon Labour, arguing the obvious, namely that Corbyn is utterly unfit to govern.
Being a Brexit fan I hope they’re right but I have an uneasy feeling of an indecisive outcome. Why? Because this is not a conventional Labour-Conservative election. First there’s Brexit which has induced bitter feelings crossing party lines. But a real concern is the strong Scottish National Party. They’ve announced they’re prepared to form a coalition with Labour in return for a further independence referendum. Boris on the other hand has said he would not sanction another referendum which could lead to a split of the union.
Here’s the irony in that situation. Assume the SNP and Labour can form a government resulting in a Scottish referendum. Current Scottish polling is about 50/50 for independence. But that would undoubtably swing towards independence as union voters cross over to avoid Corbyn’s ludicrous 1990s socialist programme. Ergo, Scotland becomes independent and Corbyn loses his SNP MPs induced majority.
To avoid such a catastrophe the Liberal Democrats could call the shots. They won’t want a bar of Corbyn’s programme but they’re anti-Brexit so can’t get into bed with Boris. Shades of Israel looming in which forming a government, despite two elections this year, currently seems impossible. Was it not for Brexit, as a libertarian I’d call that an ideal situation.
Belgium offers an extreme example of such situations. After the 2018 election it took almost 2 years to form a government. Similar outcomes had followed the 1979, 1978, 1992 and 2009 elections. It’s currently operating under a so-called caretaker government since the May election this year, pending resolvement. That situation is unlikely to ever change as the country is utterly divided between the prosperous Dutch speaking Flemish north and the Catholic poorer French speaking south. It’s not a country in any sense and should split, or, alternatively the southern half join France and the northern the Netherlands.
But here’s the interesting aspect. By any measure, despite the frequent absence of a central government, Belgium, and especially Flanders is a prosperous and pleasant nation. In short, periods without governments are not an issue.
But Britain has two major restructuring contentious issues dominating life, namely Brexit and Scottish independence. Leaving them unresolved will induce a sense of despair.
Let’s hope I’m wrong in my intuitive sense of an untidy election outcome.