In just under two weeks time the phony election will be over and the real election will start as the parties and their leaders lick their wounds whilst starting to work out how they are going get enough votes together to form a government. It will not be easy as none of the electoral arithmetic seems to add up. What we will probably end up with is some form of minority government that will try and avoid passing any legislation unless they have to and when they do face a vote they will have to cajole, threaten and bribe their way to victory – the era of pork barrel politics will once again have entered British political lexicon.
There is only one problem with all this – there is no money and all the parties know this. At the moment we are hearing about ‘fully costed’ pledges which roughly translated means wishful thinking. So Labour are going freeze this and reduce that whilst spending more on the other – it means nothing because they don’t have the money. Equally, the Conservative are promising massive cuts hear and tax cuts there with not the first idea how they are going to deliver on either. The SNP have the advantage that they don’t have to pretend that their figures add up, they didn’t during the independence campaign so why should they start now? Yet they claim to be able to reduce cuts and increase spending without really saying where the money is coming from. The Lib Dems apparently have the best ‘fully costed’ pledges yet at the moment no one is listening to them – this may change after May 7th.
What this really means is that trying to change anything in the next parliament will be very difficult as there will be no natural majority to forge. For all the SNP bluster, or should that be Conservative, they won’t have that much to offer as any wrong step, and they will make plenty – they are only human after all, could well affect their polling in the 2016 Holyrood election where surely Labour will be able start to fight back against the SNP? So the spending plans being put forward will resemble those of the current government with a little bit of fiddling at the edges. Maybe the one thing that might get wide ranging support would be some form of electoral reform which replaces the first past the post system we have at the moment. Maybe.
The one thing that will definitely will happen is that we will replace Trident with another system. The scale and the exact details will be debated and changed over the years to come but there is too much of a majority in Westminster for that not to happen. Even the SNP won’t be too bothered about this as the Royal Navy base in Scotland that supports the current Trident deployment is one of the largest employers in Scotland so closure is something they don’t really want, even if they are against nuclear weapons. Such is the strange world of politics.