Wednesday, 12 May 2010

Vote Yellow get Blue

With no details of the deal that has been struck, commenting on the new government is going to be difficult, but I wonder what voters here in Maidstone are thinking right now.

The campaign here was dominated by the Lib Dem call to vote for them to stop the Tories getting in. In fairness to Peter Carroll, his campaign was slick and hard fought, for which he deserves credit.

The result of the campaign in Maidstone meant a big squeeze on the Green vote and a collapse of the Labour vote (down from 10,814 to 4,769, i.e. a fall of 6,045). The Lib Dems rose from 10,808 to 17,602, i.e. rose by 6,794. The Conservative vote fell slightly from 25,670 to 23,491 and the total votes cast was almost the same as in 2005 (48,928). It is obvious that the mountain that the Lib Dems were trying to climb was simply too high.

As far as I can tell, Peter Carroll managed to persuade Labour voters that he was their best chance to oust the Tories from Maidstone and they gave him their support on that basis. Clearly Maidstone as a whole remains highly supportive of the Conservatives in parliament and even with the departure of Ann Widdecombe, they lost very few votes.

So I wonder what the 17,602 Lib Dems voters are thinking this morning after the announcement that it wouldn't have mattered how they had voted? The new LibCon agreement would have meant that they would had put the Conservatives into government anyway.

These 17,602 people were very clear that they did not want the Tories and I can only assume the defecting 6,000 from Labour to Lib Dem were even more clear. They have got want they voted against, delivered by the party they voted for. There will some angry souls out there today and I don't remember seeing "Voting Lib Dem will get the Conservatives elected" on the Lib Dem leaflets.

However, true voting reform would increase the likelihood of coalition governments and these are to be welcomed. Other countries are able to cope well with coalitions and in general better decisions are made when there is challenge rather than dictatorship. Rumour has it that Labour were not willing to make the compromises needed for a coalition which forced the Lib Dems hand. This is a clear failure on Labour's part and perhaps a hangover from their 13 years of command and control government.

I was hoping for a slightly less right wing coalition than we have got, but it was not to be. Let us just hope that the deal included proportional representation and not the ridiculous AV suggestion which is less proportional that FPTP. If the LibDems have failed to get true voting reform, it won't just be the voters who desert them at the next election.

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