The UK has long had a tradition of two-party government, whereby the Labour party will alternate with the Conservatives. Thus Mrs Thatcher became Prime Minister in 1979 for the Conservatives, and was followed by John Major. Then Tony Blair won for Labour in 1997, with Gordon Brown taking over two years ago.
Now, however, this tradition is under threat. Many worry that this could lead to an unstable government, although the much-admired German system would seem to suggest that coalition politics can, in fact, be more stable. Certainly the latest polls, taken after the LiberalDemocrats strong performance in the UK’s first-ever Prime Ministerial Debate on Thursday, suggest that the 3 parties are closer in support than ever before.
One online poll, above, for the Mail on Sunday newspaper even has the LibDems (yellow) in the lead versus the Conservatives (blue) and Labour (red). The Liberals, now the Liberal Democrats, last won a General Election in 1906, so this is a major shift in opinion. Of course, its still over 2 weeks till polling date, but clearly the election is now too close to call.
One key fact stands out. As the BBC note, in the latest polls “63% agreed with the statement that “neither Labour nor the Conservatives are being honest about how they would reduce public spending”.” And this is probably the main reason why the LibDems are doing so well, as they are campaigning on exactly this issue.
The question is whether the other two main parties now respond to this public demand. People may not like the idea of cuts, but they seem to dislike even more being treated like children by the 2 main parties, who have so far pretended that everything can continue as in the Boom years.
(In the interest of full disclosure, the blog is a floating voter, and has not yet decided how it will vote in the election)