Monday, January 26, 2015

What now for Greece? What now for Europe?


On January 25th 2015 Alexis Tsipras led the left-wing party Syriza to power in Greece. It is hardly surprising that the radical left were empowered to electoral victory on an anti-austerity platform in the European country that has suffered the most severe effects of ideological austerity. 


Greek defiance

After five long years of the troika of the IMF, the European Central Bank and the European Commission forcing Greece to borrow vast sums in order to bail out their creditors (mainly the French and German banks that recklessly lent them money in the first place), and enforcing a savage programme of cuts and privatisations, the people of Greece have had enough.
The IMF, the EC and the ECB are not the only organisations with strong incentives to make an example of Greece by further destabalising their economy and obstructing their new democratically elected government as much as possible. Other parties with interests in seeing Greece suffer in order to deter similar acts of defiance and ensure the continuation of ideological austerity include the governments of the UK and the US and multinational finance which has benefited enormously from the bailouts, and from the asset stripping of whole national economies under the guise of "there is no alternative" austerity.

The reason the Greeks are so brave is that they know that the EU and the economic right-wing simply cannot allow a left-wing government to be perceived to win the fightback against ideological austerity. 
The Greek people knew that their act of defiance in electing an anti-austerity government is likely to provoke severe retribution from the troika and other powerful pro-austerity forces, but they have chosen defiance instead of subservience anyway. The political landscape of Europe has been changed because enough Greeks have decided that it's better to risk dying on their feet than to continue living on their knees

European politics

Spain and Ireland have also suffered the appalling effects of ideological austerity more than most of their EU neighbours, and there too the parties with the biggest increases in popularity are anti-austerity left-wingers too (Podemos and Sinn Féin). The victory of an anti-austerity party in Greece is bound to act as an inspiration to Podemos and Sinn Féin, as well as many other smaller anti-austerity parties such as the various Green parties across Europe and the German radical left party Die Linke.


Even though the independence referendum was lost, Scotland is another country with a popular anti-austerity movement. The anti-austerity SNP hold majority control of the Scottish parliament, they're riding high in the polls and they look set to inflict an unprecedented electoral bloodbath on the Labour Party in the May 2015 general election.

While many people have reservations about the SNP, it is impossible to deny that they have formed an anti-austerity alliance with Plaid Cymru and the Green Party of England and Wales. It's also impossible to deny that they are part of the anti-austerity Green-European Free Alliance group in the European Parliament.

The SNP are nowhere near as radically left-wing as Syriza, but they are smart enough to see austerity as the dangerous and socially destructive economic ideology that it is, and to publicly oppose it.

The election of a left-wing anti-austerity government within the EU should act as a short-term inspiration to opponents of ideological austerity all over Europe because it's proof that countries can get rid of pro-austerity governments. Whether it acts as a long-term inspiration will depend heavily on how successful Syriza are percieved to be, and how far the powerful pro-austerity forces are prepared to go in punishing Greece in order to deter more acts of civic defiance elsewhere in Europe.



Problems for the pro-austerity forces

The defiance of the Greeks presents two significant problems to the right-wing pro-austerity forces that dominate in Europe.

Firstly the ideological austerity they have already imposed on Greece has caused years of appalling socio-economic chaos (ludicrously high unemployment figures, 
the degradation and destruction of public services, widespread poverty and vast flows of labour and capital out of the country). The terrible economic policies of the troika have already inflicted so much poverty and destruction in Greece that they would now have to push the levels of suffering beyond the extreme in order to make life under a left-wing government seem distinctively worse than life under troika imposed austerity. Causing even more suffering to an already beleaguered nation could tip Greece from rolling socio-economic chaos into a full scale humanitarian disaster.

The second major problem for the powerful pro-austerity forces is that there is a significant risk that by working to further destabilise Greece, they could force the nation to default on their debts and exit the single European currency experiment, potentially triggering a domino effect of other Eurozone states defaulting on their unpayable debts and quitting the single currency.

The pro-austerity forces may hold most of the levers of power in Europe, but the chaos they have already caused in Greece with their ideological austerity agenda has put them in a complicated bind, where they really need to punish Greece to make anti-austerity defiance look a really bad idea so as to deter more of it, but not so much that they end up bringing down their inherently unstable single currency experiment altogether.

    
The single currency

The fact that Greece is tied into the European single currency has exacerbated the ongoing economic crisis that has driven the rise of Syriza in just a few years from a minor coalition of tiny green and radical-left parties to a single unified party that controls the Greek parliament.

Membership of the single currency has prevented the Greek state from using monetary policies or capital controls to alleviate the suffering, and has facilitated the enormous scale of capital flight out of the Greek economy.

An economic system uniting such radically different economies as Greece and Germany, and which allows enormous flows of capital to move unhindered from the weaker economy to the stronger one is inherently unstable. The more developed European nations cannot continue to suck such enormous flows of wealth out of the poorer nations on an indefinite basis without causing severe instability. A more stable and balanced European economy would need capital to flow from the wealthier, more productive economies to the poorer less productive ones, not the other way around.

Either the European Union needs to be radically reformed so that the wealth of the more productive nations is used to improve productivity in the struggling nations via a structural feedback mechanism, or the system is going to become so unequal and inherently unstable that whole countries are left with no choice but to quit the single currency in order to rid themselves of the European economic straight jacket.

There is a third option, which is the development of an orderly exit strategy so that there is a procedure for countries to make orderly withdrawals from the single currency so that the risk of a catastrophic domino effect of disorderly and highly unpredictably exits is reduced.

This third option is very unlikely to be taken because although it would strongly reduce the probability of a chaotic sequence of disorderly exits, it would strongly increase the possibility that numerous countries would choose to abandon the Euro. It seems unlikely that the right-wing dominated institutions that devised the single currency experiment in the first place are suddenly going to decide to build in a legislative escape route so that nations can extricate themselves as painlessly as possible from their failing ideological experiment.

   
Conclusion

It could be easy to get carried away celebrating the electoral success of a left-wing anti-austerity party, but in order to do so it would be necessary to ignore the fact that much more powerful governments and institutions (IMF, EC, ECB, Germany, UK, US, numerous European banks) have vested interests in making sure that Syriza are perceived to fail.

Awareness of the wider perspective allows us to understand that the electoral success of Syriza is a small victory for the underdogs in the ongoing battle between powerful pro-austerity forces, and those who recognise austerity as the socially and economically destructive right-wing economic ideology that it is.

The success of Syriza has catapulted Greece back onto the centre-stage of European politics, and it will be very interesting to see how far their much more powerful pro-austerity opponents will go to punish the Greeks for their defiance, and whether this punishment has the effect of pushing Greece over the tipping point causing a full-scale Eurozone crisis.


 Another Angry Voice  is a "Pay As You Feel" website. You can have access to all of my work for free, or you can choose to make a small donation to help me keep writing. The choice is entirely yours.


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Friday, January 23, 2015

Let's ensure Nick Clegg isn't the kingmaker in May 2015


The Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg has rubbished projections that the Liberal Democrats will lose half of their MPs in the May 2015 General Election, and stated that he expects to be the kingmaker who gets to decide whether to form a government with Labour, or with the Tories.

After the treachery of 2010, where Clegg gleefully shafted several core Lib-Dem demographics (anti-Tory tactical voters, students, social liberals, the anti-war vote ...) in order to prop up David Cameron and a grotesque bunch of malicious and incompetent Tory ministers, the idea of the only certainty in 2015 being a return to government for Nick Clegg and the Liberal Democrats is an utterly revolting one.

I'm pretty sure that the majority of people are hoping that the Liberal Democrats get a hammering in the General Election, and that Nick Clegg suffers what has become known as a "Portillo moment", by becoming the most high profile political figure to lose their seat in the election.

In order to prevent Nick Clegg from being the kingmaker who gets to pick who to form a government with, the public need to use their heads and vote in particular ways. People in Scotland and Sheffield have more power to damage Clegg's kingmaker ambitions than the rest of us, but we can all chip in to make sure Clegg doesn't get to decide whether to make kings of the red establishment party or the blue one.

What we can do

Scotland

Recent poll results have predicted absolute landslide victories for the SNP in Scotland, which would be good for preventing Nick Clegg from being kingmaker for two big reasons.

Firstly it looks like the SNP are set to unseat at least ten of, if not all eleven of the Lib-Dem MPs in Scotland. The loss of this many Lib-Dem MPs equates to a 20% reduction in the total number of Lib-Dems in Westminster. Combine this carnage in Scotland with the predicted losses across the rest of the UK and it does look extremely likely that the Lib-Dems will lose around half of their MPs.

The second reason that a huge SNP triumph in Scotland would damage the Lib-Dems' chances of sneaking back into power is that if the SNP win the 40+ seats they're predicted to, they'll usurp the Lib-Dems as the 3rd largest party in the House of Commons, and would naturally assume the role of Kingmakers for themselves. An added bonus to this scenario is that the SNP would never form a coalition government with the Tories, and were they to form a government with the Labour Party, they'd drag them back towards the left where they belong.

Sheffield

Nick Clegg is in severe danger of losing his parliamentary seat in Sheffield Hallam. Rival campaigners have said that they've never witnessed such hostility towards an incumbent MP before, especially such a high profile one.

Unfortunately the Green Party have not made very much headway in the constituency, and barring an unprecedented late surge in support for them (or the announcement of a celebrity candidate on an anti-Clegg ticket) the only serious rival to Nick Clegg seems to be the Labour candidate Oliver Coppard.

I've often stated my objection to what the Labour Party has become, but in this case I'm prepared to make an exception and suggest that people in Sheffield Hallam seriously consider holding their noses and voting for the young Labour candidate in order to hand Nick Clegg the "Portillo moment" he so richly deserves.

If you live elsewhere in Sheffield or South Yorkshire, you can always assist the campaign to unseat Nick Clegg in Sheffield Hallam by actively joining the campaign, or by talking to people in the Sheffield Hallam constituency about why Nick Clegg needs to go.

The rest of us


Even though the people of Scotland and Sheffield have the most important roles in ensuring Nick Clegg gets the comeuppance he deserves, the rest of us have a role to play too.

The most obvious thing we can do to avoid the scenario where the Lib-Dems get to decide which party they are going to enable into power in May is to avoid voting Liberal Democrat (considering the majority of polls put them below 10% of the vote, there aren't actually that many people left who need convincing not to vote Lib-Dem!).

Another thing we can do to block Nick Clegg's kingmaker ambitions is to vote against all three of the Westminster establishment parties, and to convince as many other people as possible to vote alternative too (especially habitual non-voters). If enough of us do this, we'll be able to push the UK towards multi-party politics, and add to the increasing pressure to replace out outdated and disproportionate voting system with one that gives fairer representation of the way people actually voted.

If the combined total for all of the other parties rises to well above 30% (which seems possible given recent poll results), yet they end up with fewer than 5% of the seats between them, the demand for proper electoral reform will become irresistible.

Once proper electoral reform is achieved, people will get to vote for the candidate they actually want, rather than voting tactically against the candidate they hate, which would be the first important step in ending the duopoly on political power held by Labour and the Tories for the last 100 years, and it would also put paid to incredibly unpopular self-appointed kingmakers like Nick Clegg.

 Another Angry Voice  is a "Pay As You Feel" website. You can have access to all of my work for free, or you can choose to make a small donation to help me keep writing. The choice is entirely yours.


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Thursday, January 22, 2015

The annihilation of PASOK in Greece


The Greek legislative election on Sunday 25th January is extremely interesting for several reasons, most notably the rise of the radical left party Syriza from an extremely minor player in Greek politics just a few years ago to the frontrunners to win the election outright.

After four long years of ideological austerity imposed on Greece from abroad by the troika (the European Commission, European Central Bank and the IMF), a sizable proportion of the Greek public have had enough of failing public services, widespread poverty and 50%+ youth unemployment, all imposed by a group of unelected foreign institutions in order to protect the financial interests of the private banks that recklessly lent Greece so much money in the first place.

For the last two and a half years this destructive, troika imposed ideological austerity agenda has been administered by a coalition of the two rival establishment parties who swapped power regularly between the end of the military dictatorship in 1974 and the Greek debt crisis in 2011. This austerity coalition has been led by New Democracy (the Greek Tories) and propped up by PASOK (the Greek Labour party).

PASOK (The Panhellenic Socialist Movement) look set to pay an incredibly heavy price for openly siding with their right-wing arch enemies in order to enforce ideological austerity against the Greek people. PASOK were the party of government in Greece as recently as November 2011, but opinion polls give them only about 4.5% of the vote this time around, which is less than the Golden Dawn fascists, the Greek Communist Party or the newly formed centralist party called The River.

Between 1981 and 2011 PASOK never achieved less than 38% of the vote in legislative elections and held power for 22 of those years. Now the party is in ruins and looks set to win less than 5% of the vote and just a dozen or so seats in the parliament of 300. In a few short years they have gone from the party of government to a bunch of also rans who will be lucky if they end January as the 6th biggest party in Greece.

PASOK are very much like the UK Labour Party by virtue of the fact that they are both clearly socialists only in name these days, having bought into right-wing economic dogma many years ago. The willingness of PASOK to prop up the government of their traditional political enemies as they enforce the ideological austerity agenda of the troika was the final nail in the coffin for them. There was absolutely no way that their core left-wing demographic were going to accept that kind of betrayal, especially given the rise of several alternative left-wing parties, including the election frontrunners Syriza.

The lesson to the Labour Party in the UK couldn't be stronger, but they are almost certainly far too strategically inept to heed the warnings from Greece.

The poll results predicting an electoral bloodbath for Labour in Scotland in which all but half a dozen or so Labour MPs will lose their seats to the SNP are another clear demonstration that Labour are playing an extraordinarily dangerous game by cuddling up so closely to the Tories and parroting their right-wing economic austerity agenda.

Another crystal clear warning about the dangers of siding with the Tories can be seen in the catastrophic decline of the Liberal Democrats from 23% of the vote in 2010 to well below 10% in the majority of recent polls. Since jumping into bed with the Tories in 2010 the Lib-Dems have lost 10 of their 11 MEPs, slumped from the 3rd to the 6th largest political party in terms of party membership, lost hundreds of local councilors and lost their deposits in almost every by-election they've contested.

The Labour leadership don't seem willing to heed any of these warnings, and in early January 2015 they openly endorsed George Osborne's failed austerity agenda by voting in favour of his plan to send the UK economy back to the 1930s with even more ideologically driven austerity cuts.

By explicitly endorsing George Osborne's ideological austerity agenda in this way, Labour have sent out a clear message to all of their left-wing voters (who are still their core demographic despite the fact that Labour hasn't been a left-wing party for over two decades) that a vote for Labour will be a vote for more ideologically driven right-wing economic policy.

The big difference between Labour and PASOK is that in the UK there isn't a single unified left-wing party like Syriza for anti-austerity voters to unify behind. Instead the UK has the SNP in Scotland, Plaid Cymru in Wales the Green Party across the whole UK, and a number of other minor left-wing parties too, meaning that even though the Labour Party is riddled with right-wing politicians like Ed Balls, Liam Byrne, Yvette Cooper and Jim Murphy (who would all clearly be more at home in the Tory party), Labour are the only political party that can prevent the Tories getting another five year stint in power.

Labour may be the only party that can keep the Tories out of power, but a huge proportion of their core demographics (especially in Scotland) are coming to realise that voting Labour to defeat the Tories is almost pointless if the Labour Party that replaces them adhere to exactly the same right-wing economic ideology as the Tories do.

It remains to be seen whether the annihilation of PASOK in Greece and the Scottish electoral bloodbath Labour are set to suffer in May will be warning enough to convince the Labour Party to distance themselves from the Tories and abandon the right-wing economic ideology they've been pushing ever since Blair and Brown usurped the party in 1994, or whether Labour will carry on regardless and make it very much more likely that the people of England and Wales will see sense like the Scottish and consign the red Tories to electoral oblivion too at some point in the near future.



 Another Angry Voice  is a "Pay As You Feel" website. You can have access to all of my work for free, or you can choose to make a small donation to help me keep writing. The choice is entirely yours.


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Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Is "vote Green, get Tory" really the best that Labour propagandists can come up with?


As the Green Party surge has increased in pace, so too has the regularity of fearmongering comments like "Vote Green, get Tory" blathered by blatant Labour Party tribalists beneath any article that even vaguely mentions the Green Party.


Fear

It's no surprise that Labour Party loyalists are petrified of the Green Party, for the phenomenal rise of the Scottish National Party north of the border is proof of the success that can be achieved by a party that picks up the left-wing social democratic policies that Labour were so keen to throw away when they converted to right-wing Thatcherite economic dogma in the mid-1990s.

Nor is it surprising that English Labour loyalists have turned to the same nonsensical fearmongering tactics that the Scottish Labour Party have been trying to use against the SNP. Just as the Scottish Labour leader Jim Murphy tries to mislead people into believing that every vote for the SNP is a vote for the Tories, Labour Party tribalists south of the border are intent on pretending that every vote cast for the Green Party will help David Cameron back into power.


Anyone who has even a rudimentary understanding of how the antiquated UK electoral system works will know that absolutist generalisations like "Vote Green, get Tory" or "Vote SNP, get Tory" just don't make any sense. Of course it is possible that voting Green instead of Labour in a very tight Labour/Tory marginal seat might end up dividing the anti-Tory vote and letting the Tory win, but equally it is possible that supporting a Green candidate against a Lib-Dem incumbent could diminish the chances of another Tory/Lib-Dem coalition, and it's completely obvious that voting Green in any of the hundreds of safe seats in the UK would have no effect on the overall outcome whatever, while sending a strong message that more and more people are looking for a genuine left-wing alternative rather than the red Tory party that the Labour Party has become.

Aside from the fact that "Vote Green, get Tory" only stands true in a tiny minority of UK constituencies, there's also the importance of looking beyond the basic words of the political catchphrase in order to decipher what it actually means. In this case it's absolutely clear that "Vote Green, get Tory" is actually an political expression of fear that translates as "We're absolutely terrified of a genuine left-wing party so we're going to try and frighten you into not voting for them".

It's interesting to see how Labour loyalists have converted their own fear of a genuine left-wing party into an effort to instill fear into other people. 


Another blatant illustration that the Labour Party are motivated by fear of the Green Party is Ed Miliband's ludicrous stance on the pre-election debates. Had Miliband called David Cameron's bluff and said that the Green Party deserve representation in the debates, he would have looked strong and unafraid, but by siding with the Lib-Dems and UKIP to push for the continued exclusion of the Greens and for David Cameron to be "empty-chaired" makes him just as much of a self-interested coward when it comes to the Green Party as David Cameron is when it comes to UKIP.


One of the most telling things about this "Vote Green, get Tory" propaganda campaign is that Labour haven't come up with anything better than this nonsense despite having set up an anti-Green propaganda unit led by Sadiq Khan in order to try to attack and undermine the Green Party (which in itself is yet another illustration that the Labour Party are terrified of the Green threat).
Vote Labour, get Red Tory


I'm not normally inclined to reduce complex political issues down to cheap political soundbites, but in this case I reckon that presenting "Vote Labour, get Red Tory" is a fair riposte because the Labour loyalists were the ones who started off with the glib absolutist soundbites weren't they?

If we look at the choice between voting Green or voting Labour from a left-wing perspective, it becomes a choice between voting Green and actively endorsing a left-wing political party with the small chance that a blue Tory might sneak in by default (in a minority of constituencies) and a vote for Labour that actively endorses a Thatcherite party, and make it more likely that a Tory (in a red tie) will win because left-wing voters were too afraid to vote for a proper left-wing party.

At least if the left-wing voter votes for the left-wing party, they can be sure that their vote registered as a vote in favour of left-wing politics, not as an endorsement of Miliband and Balls' sickening brand of Thatcherism-lite, and explicit support for George Osborne's ideological austerity agenda.

Vote with your conscience

The fact that the Lib-Dems soaked up millions of tactical votes against the Tories over the decades, then jumped straight into bed with them as soon as they got the chance is an illustration of how tactical voting can end up enabling the party people were tactically voting against. This means that it might be in people's best interests to forget about tactical voting and just go for the party that best represents their political views. If enough people did this, and the Westminster establishment were denuded of most of the votes they've won through tactical voting, the case for electoral reform would become overwhelming.

Recent polls have shown the Lib-Lab-Con Westminster establishment with the lowest share of the vote between them in history (just 66% according to a January 2015 Ashcroft poll). If this trend towards the smaller parties continues until the General Election, we could see the Lib-Lab-Cons bag only marginally more than 50% of the votes between them, yet hoover up 90% of the seats due to the outdated and shockingly unrepresentative voting system we endure in the UK. If that were to happen, calls for electoral reform and proper representation for the smaller parties would surely become irresistible.

If we forget about short-term tactical voting and vote for the parties we actually believe in, it makes it far more likely that the long-term objective of a fairer electoral system can be achieved, relegating the apathy inducing system of tactical voting, safe seats and wasted votes and shockingly low turnouts to paragraphs in future political textbooks on how not to run a fair and representative voting system.


 Another Angry Voice  is a "Pay As You Feel" website. You can have access to all of my work for free, or you can choose to make a small donation to help me keep writing. The choice is entirely yours.


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Thursday, January 15, 2015

Coalition governments: Which one would you prefer?


The result of the 2010 General Election was so tight that the Tory party had to form a coalition government with the Liberal Democrats in order to sneak back into power. What made this Tory failure so remarkable was the way that they somehow contrived to not win a majority even with a spectacularly unpopular Prime Minister (Gordon Brown) who was dealing with the wake of the biggest peacetime crisis since the 1920s (the global financial sector insolvency crisis).

Since 2010 several alternative political parties have grown dramatically in popularity, with three parties in particular undergoing dramatic rises in membership and general popularity.

The rise of the alternative parties

In 2011 the Scottish National Party formed the first ever majority government in the Scottish Parliament (something that the experts had said was impossible) and in 2014 alone they increased their party membership from 27,000 to well over 90,000 making them by far the 3rd largest party in the whole UK, despite only representing 8% of the UK population. Current polling suggests that the SNP are going to inflict an unprecedented bloodbath on the Labour Party in Scotland which will increase their Westminster contingent from just 6 MPs to as many as 45 of the 59 Scottish seats.

The Green Party have also seen an explosion in popularity since 2010, not least because their MP Caroline Lucas has consistently proven herself to be one of the most diligent and hardworking politicians in Westminster. In May 2014 the Green Party won 3 MEPs in the European election to beat the Liberal Democrats down into fifth place, and by the end of 2015 they had increased their UK wide membership from around 15,000 to over 40,000. 
By the time of the 2015 General Election it looks extremely likely that the Greens will have overtaken the Liberal Democrats to become the 4th biggest political party in the UK in terms of membership (behind only Labour, the Tories and the SNP). Aside from their exponential growth in membership, the Green Party have now become the 2nd most popular party in the 18-24 demographic (after Labour) and they've also now got far more social media followers than the Liberal-Democrats, and their page easily outperforms those of the three Westminster establishment parties in terms of Facebook % reach (suggesting that the quality of their social media content is higher). 

UKIP have also experienced a massive increase in popularity since 2010. In May 2014 they took 9% of the eligible vote to become the largest UK party in the European Parliament and later that year they poached two sitting Tory MPs (Douglas Carswell and Mark Reckless) to gain their first ever elected MPs (albeit in low turnout by-elections where their candidates were both the sitting MPs). UKIP have also seen their party membership swell dramatically since 2010 (although not as exponentially as the SNP and the Greens). UKIP membership has grown from 15,000 in 2010 to over 40,000 in January 2015.

Other new alternative parties have also sprung onto the scene since 2010. The National Health Action Party work hard to raise awareness of the ideological vandalism of our health system inflicted by the Tories and their Lib-Dem sidekicks; Yorkshire First have sprung up to call for greater devolution of political power to Yorkshire (which has almost exactly the same population as Scotland); Ken Loach has launched a new left-wing party called Left Unity; and a few celebrity candidates are standing for minor parties too, most notably Bez who is standing for The Reality Party in Salford and Al Murray (The Pub Landlord) who is standing in South Thanet for Free United Kingdom Party (FUKP) against UKIP leader Nigel Farage.

Another coalition

I'm no psephologist, but it seems sensible to conclude that if the 2010 General Election resulted in a coalition government, the exponential growth in popularity of alternative political parties since 2010 suggests that another coalition government is a distinct likelihood.

The Tories are clearly under threat of losing several seats to UKIP and the Labour Party looks set to lose dozens of seats in Scotland due to their spectacularly suicidal strategic decision to openly side with the Tories in the Scottish independence debate (in this article I explain why it was such a poor move, and what they should have done differently had they not been so strategically inept).

The Liberal Democrats also look set to lose seats as a result of their decision to ditch most of their popular policies in order to jump into support the malicious scheming of Tories like Iain Duncan Smith (the DWP reign of terror), Michael Gove (over 3,000 state schools privatised without most people even knowing about it), Theresa May (one draconian attack on our rights and liberties after another), Andrew Lansley (architect of the massive top-down reorganisation of the NHS that David Cameron promised us he wouldn't do) and George Osborne (borrowed more in 4 years than every Labour government in history combined).

Of course it is by no means certain that there will be some kind of coalition government come May 2015, especially since (thanks to their rogues gallery of wealthy backers) the Tories have an election fighting fund that dwarfs all of the other parties combined and because the Tory dominated mainstream press will be pushing a relentlessly pro-Tory agenda until the election. However, the additional resources and the media bias didn't help them achieve a majority last time around and it's very hard to see what's so different that these advantages will work better for them in 2015.
     

Possible coalitions

In this section I'm going to run through some of the possible scenarios in May 2015 if there no single party wins enough seats to form a majority government on their own.

Labour/SNP
This is probably the most likely potential coalition, especially if the SNP win 40 odd seats and surpass the Lib-Dems as the third biggest party in Westminster. In my view a Labour-SNP coalition could be highly unstable due to constitutional reasons (part of the government would not be able to vote on issues that only effect England, so reversal of the ideological vandalism done by the Tories to the English NHS and English education system might be very difficult to achieve). Then there's the fact that a significant proportion of the Labour Party in Scotland seem to hate the SNP even more passionately than they hate the Tories!

Labour/Lib-Dem
The Lib-Dems are going to lose an awful lot of seats in May 2015, but they're likely to still keep a couple of dozen in their English strongholds. I imagine that Labour would much prefer to share power with the Lib-Dems than the SNP because both parties subscribe to the right-wing Westminster economic consensus that has been in place since 1979, but the Lib-Dems are certainly going to pick up fewer seats than they did in 2010, so they'll be significantly less likely to hold the balance of power this time around.

         
Tory/Lib-Dem
Who on earth would want to see a repeat of this freakshow? The last four and a half years have witnessed an unprecedented combination of outrageous incompetence, illiberal attacks on our rights and freedoms and outright malice. However, just because nobody in their right minds would want it to happen again, that's no guarantee that it won't.

Labour/Rainbow
Given the electoral carnage Labour look set to suffer in Scotland, they may have to form a multi-party coalition 
in order to gather enough support to form a majority government, featuring any of the Lib-Dems, SNP, Plaid Cymru, Green Party and/or Northern Irish parties. There would obviously be a lot of issues if the coalition was made up of several different parties, but the fact that the Green Party, Plaid Cymru and the SNP are all fellow members of the Green-European Free Alliance grouping in the European Parliament suggests that these three should be capable of working reasonably well together as part of a multi-party government.

Labour/Green
The Green Party surge would have to really pick up pace in the next four months if they intend to win enough seats to hold the balance of power. It would be a huge disappointment to the Greens if Caroline Lucas lost her seat after all of her hard work in the last five years, and they have some decent electoral prospects in Norwich, Bristol and the South West. However I think they really need to be more ambitions and think of turning Liverpool into a Green city if they want to win enough seats to increase their chances of joining the government. Whether the Greens might join forces with Labour in their own right, or as part of a "rainbow coalition", they could have a very interesting effect on the Labour Party by dragging them back towards the social democratic policies that they abandoned in the 1990s when Blair and Brown usurped the party and converted it to Thatcherism-lite.

Tory-UKIP
This is an disturbingly atrocious scenario. A Tory-UKIP coalition would be a dangerously fanatical right-wing Tory government full of maniacs like Iain Duncan Smith, Michael Gove, Chris Grayling and Theresa May that isn't willingly propped up by a bunch of orange book Liberals on a political suicide mission, but actively dragged even further to the right by a "Thatcherism on steroids" party that is 90% bankrolled by people who defected from the Tory party because they weren't extreme enough!

Labour-Tory

People may scoff at this one, but it's not like they haven't worked together on a number of projects in recent years. They joined forces to oppose Scottish independence, their councilors in Brighton have colluded together to undermine the minority Green Party administration there and force them to carry out the central government dictated cuts regime, and Labour have regularly voted in favour of Tory legislation such as Iain Duncan Smith's Retroactive Workfare bill, DRIP and George Osborne's bizarre Austerity Posturing vote in January 2015. If we look at Greece we can see an example of the two former political giants having to share power in order to keep out the new party (Syriza), and in Spain the two main parties (PP and PSOE) may have to join forces in order to keep out Podemos (who have grown from nothing into the most popular party in Spain in just nine months). So two long established foes joining forces in order to hang desperately onto political power isn't as completely unthinkable as it might seem.

Other coalition combinations are mathematically possible, but the idea of UKIP sharing power with Labour, or either of the SNP or the Greens sharing power with the Tories look outlandishly unlikely in reality.



Which one would you choose?

Assuming that the next government is to be a coalition government, which of the options outlined above looks the most appealing to you? And which potential coalition would have you making sure your passport is up-to-date so that you can find somewhere else in Europe to reside if it were to come true?


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