Yesterday was the British General Election. As predicted by me a month ago, it was the Conservatives for the losing. The Labour Party have been resoundly defeated in government, losing 91 seats whilst the Tories have gained 97, and the Lib Dems have surprisingly lost 5 seats. As I type, the Conservatives have 305 seats, Labour has 258 and the Liberal Democrats have 57, with 2 seats left to declare.
However, with those numbers, it is impossible for the Conservatives to win a majority and govern in their own right. They needed 326 seats to gain the majority and to be an effective government they'd really need another 20-30 on top of that (to allow for dissent, disaffection and deaths among their MPs). So now the horse-trading has to commence and that will make things interesting for a while.
So far, David Cameron has made a public offer to the Lib Dems inviting them "to work together", whatever that means. It could be as simple as a pact buying the Lib Dems off so that they don't vote down the Budget and the Queen's Speech (without which the government fails), or it could be a full coalition with Lib Dems occupying key ministerial posts.
I think it would be in the country's best interest for the Conservatives to invite the Lib Dems to form a coalition government, otherwise after six or twelve months of paralysis we'll be facing another election. And we can't afford 12 months of paralysis - Britain's deficit and national debt are huge, many people are still facing job losses and unemployment, personal debt burdens are immense, and large sections of the population never benefited from the boom in the first place. Also, a coalition government will temper the more "lunatic fringe" ideas on both sides, since no politician wants to risk losing his government job if he can help it. Politics here is frequently more about applying the latest political theory or dogma and less about taking a pragmatic approach to problems; a coalition would help prevent that.
Here are my ministerial predictions for the future Conservative-Liberal Coalition:-
Prime Minister - David Cameron (C)
Chancellor of the Exchequer - Vince Cable (L) (the only politician who can say "I told you so" over the banking crisis/credit crunch)
Foreign Secretary and Deputy Prime Minister - Nick Clegg (L)
Home Secretary - William Hague (C)
Industry Secretary - George Osborne (C) (actually, I might swap him over with William Hague)
Health Secretary - Dr Liam Fox (C) (it'd be a pleasant change to actually have a medical doctor in charge of the NHS)
As for the rest of the posts, I'm not sure. For now, I'm just glad it's over.
PS: I think this was the largest voter turnout for decades. Certainly many polling stations were ill-equipped to deal with the number of voters and there were many queues. Several polling stations closed their doors in voters faces at 10pm (when the law says they have to close), denying the voters their right to vote. One polling station in Lewisham did the sensible thing - they corralled the queue inside, so they could vote, and then shut the doors. It's probable there will be a few legal challenges arising from the disarray and possibly a couple of by-elections.