Hung parliament? Hang me!

By Emma Brooks

The news is buzzing with results from the UK general election, with many people having stayed up all night to follow the results, and the internet overflowing with comments, tweets, blog posts and more. With turnout higher than in previous years and the first hung parliament since 1974, this year’s general election is probably the most exciting one in years. But what to make of the information flying in all directions?

First, the matter of a hung parliament and the implications. We can look to countries like Germany and France to see how coalitions work, but the UK? One of the highlights of the day must have been when David Cameron made an offer to the Liberal Democrats for forming an alliance. It seems an unlikely marriage and yet it’s so clever; stealing the Liberal Democrats from right under Labour’s nose.

Which brings me to my second point. What happens to the Labour party after this general election? Will it come out battered and weakened, as has been the case for the Socialist Party in France after the past two presidential elections? Is it time for it to retreat and embark on a major restructuring and devise a new “new Labour”?

It’s time for a wake up call for the party which has been in office for 13 years. It is obvious that voters are fed up with Labour and are now ready for a bout of Cameronism. When political parties suffer this kind of drop in support, it is obviously a hard blow. But hopefully this post election period will also prove one of introspection and bring new inspiration to the Labour party. This would allow it to gain back the trust of its supporters and come back stronger at the next election.

But  do voters not just get bored of politicians of whatever stripe the minute they have been voted into office? Interestingly turnout this year was higher than usual, showing that rather being disinterested with politics people have been genuinly engaged with the outcome and have made a strong effort to get out and vote.

More worrying is the number of people who claim to have been turned away from polling stations, outraged at not having been able to vote. It seems amazing that when most countries suffer from low turnout and uninterested voters, we not even prepared to welcome those who are truly motivated to make a difference.

Could it be that Britain not only needs to reform its political system, but also the way it collects votes? Democracy is often talked about as being the best political system, the way forward, a way for citizens to express themselves freely and make their own decisions about the future of their country. If this is the case, surely we should set the example and show this is indeed possible.

Finally, what future can we imagine with a parliament made up of a Conservative and Liberal Democrat alliance? Will the Liberal Democrats really gain in this alliance or is it merely an excellent strategic move on behalf of David Cameron? Will it last long enough for us to know how it works, or will it all collapse as parties fail to agree and the parliament remains quite literally hung? More importantly, what changes can we expect on the British political scenery as the Tories finally make their come back and turn a new page in what can only be described as a new political era?

Only time will tell the answers to these questions, though I expect the excitement will soon die down, and criticism and disinterest will once again be rife. What a shame that interest peaks only once every electoral cycle.


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