There are just over five months until the next General Election. We have spent more than the last four years in a coalition already. There are many who would predict that the next General Election would result in a similar type of agreement with none of the current parties being able to achieve the 326 seats needed to hold an overall majority in the House of Commons. While the Tories came close in 2010 with 20 seats short of a majority, they still didn’t meet the requirements. Labour were 68 short and the Liberal Democrats were 269 seats off. Given that there will likely be no party with the statutory rights to command a majority in 2015 either, there will have to have another coalition agreement. However, it is not hard to imagine a new coalition. This article will look in some detail at the possible coalitions in May 2015.
LibDem-Tory pact: This is the current ruling government and the first time a coalition has existed without a state of emergency such as in WW2.The Liberal Democrats were very serious about not increasing tuition fees; however one of their first acts in the coalition was to do exactly that. This has already lost the Liberal Democrats many of their voters and the AV referendum of 2011 was testament to this. Then there are policy issues. The Liberal Democrats are more pro-Europe than the Eurosceptic branch of the Conservatives and more concerned with liberty and environmentalism than the Tories. Apart from these ideological differences there have been, throughout the coalition, far more Tories in the cabinet than Liberal Democrats. This has put limits on their power (Junior Partners) and a coalition with, perhaps Labour, may have given them more influence. Overall this coalition is unlikely to continue beyond 2015, although politics can spring a surprise.
LibDem-Labour: This was an option discussed in 2010. However, the Liberal Democrats have alienated many in their support-base. Predictably, there will be a fall in the number of constituencies Nick Clegg’s party will hold or gain. Nevertheless, if they held 30-40 seats this may prove that they are still in the same position that they were in 2015; as a deal makers or breakers. Labour and the Liberal Democrats have more similarities than most other parties (think SDP-Liberal Alliance), both could work together in the next Parliament.
UKIP-Tory: UKIP now have two seats in Parliament and are predicted to win between 10-15 new seats in the next general election. Douglas Carswell is expected to retain his seat and Reckless has a distinct chance. Even if they win as low as 10 seats, they could have enough to enter a coalition agreement with the Conservatives. The two current UKIP MP’s both defected from the Conservative Party. Many Tory backbenchers are Eurosceptic and want serious immigration reform on the 2015 Tory manifesto, a policy shared with UKIP. Farage himself admitted he is open to a coalition with the Tories and there is a significant minority within the Conservative shadows that would honour a pact with UKIP. Even though the Conservatives have, throughout contemporary history, believed in free markets. However, some would argue that the EU strips the UK of national sovereignty and the European trading bloc restricts the UK’s free market.
UKIP-Labour: Having read the above statement; one may think that UKIP would never form an agreement with Labour. However, UKIP is stealing more votes from those who live in the traditional Labour heartlands, than from anywhere else. Regardless of your opinion on the issue, immigration, particularly more recent movement from the EU is viewed negatively by traditional Old Labour supporters. Many of these voters view UKIP as the solution to promote their socio-economic well-being, jobs and British values. While UKIP policies are mainly right-wing, they could be the “2015 Liberal Democrats”. Is Farage likely to opt to govern with Miliband or the man who called UKIP “loonies, fruitcakes and closet racists”?
SNP-Labour: The Scottish Referendum of September 2014, a secession movement, created a political earthquake for Westminster. Whilst Scotland remained part of the UK, there were 9 voters who voted for Scotland to leave the Union for every 11 that wanted Scotland to retain the union, the “45”. Scotland has been a stronghold for Labour, even to this day, and they were still the largest party in Scotland in the last election. However, the SNP is often seen as Labour’s main competitor and many Scottish Labour supporters were against the Better Together campaign. The referendum results could and have been manipulated by those more politically astute .Thus many SNP politicians may win as high as 20 more seats on top of the 6 they already have, making them a very dangerous for Westminster. However, given the more ideological differences, the SNP is far more likely to work with Labour, than the Tory party.
A three way coalition (Rainbow Coalition?)- While constitutionally and technically fully possible, it is unlikely to happen unless voter apathy and disillusionment with the main parties is so low and the fringe parties have a very high turnout. Another reason this is unlikely is that even if the SNP and UKIP win the maximum number of seats predicted, and the Lib Dems don’t take considerable damage, they will still have nowhere near enough to command a majority and will almost never work together as this will alienate traditional voters and many party members may refuse to work with each other. However something along the lines of SNP-Green-Labour coalitions or Labour-Lib Dem-SNP in rare circumstances might just be something that happens. This will be a first time event, though!
Overall, I think that, whatever is the outcome, a hung parliament is far more likely than not. Whether it is due to the rise of the smaller parties, or a decline in faith in the more established ones, lower voter turnout, or the current political apathy and dissatisfaction (which is even higher than normal), the possibility of another coalition government is fast becoming reality.
By Neil Marathe, Junior Writer for Daily Political View