A British-American bluestocking living in the UK writes about politics, pop culture, and emerging new paradigms as they unfold on both sides of the Atlantic. (New content.)

Friday, 7 May 2010

The Hung Parliament, The Queen, and the Guy That Won't Leave

If you haven't yet heard, or are totally confused, the Conservative Party (David Cameron) won the election, but it did not win the clear majority. Therefore, Gordon Brown is still in power. Got that? (I didn't think so.)

I had my fingers crossed that Mr Brown would have the grace and dignity to simply resign...with all the bad press he has gotten and because it is clear that he was not the choice for the majority of Britons. But, alas (and I'm not surprised) he is going to hold on to 10 Downing until someone comes to pry his fingers loose from the door frame. This is already dividing     the  country. It's quite disgraceful, really. He is determined to stay despite the fact that his party did not win the majority of seats. (David Cameron pictured above.)

Here is my version of British politics 101:

In England, you  vote for your local MP (Member of Parliament). You vote for the MP that is running for your chosen party. For example, in America, if I agreed with the Other Party, I would vote for my Other candidate in my district. If he won, then he would go to Washington and then he/she would vote for the President for me (technically).  This is as close to an American example as I can get for you. In other words, people here do not go to the polls to vote for their Prime Minister directly as we do for President. They vote locally for their member of Parliament who in turn will vote for the leader of their Party. There really isn't even a true "vote" for Prime Minister. The majority leader becomes the new Prime Minister.

Basically, a hung Parliament occurs when one Party wins the majority of seats, but opposing parties can still band together and have more votes than the majority. The Conservatives won the most votes, but the Labour Party and the Liberal Democrats together can override and supercede the Conservatives on any issues.


A Prime Minister continues to be the Prime Minister if he can get the other party (in this case, the Lib Dems and the few others from rouge independent parties that won seats) to agree to come on board. The Conservatives can also try to get these MPs to come on board. But the Prime Minister is still the Prime Minister as long as can organize a new government when a clear majority is not present.

Once again, the Conservatives won the election by garnering the most seats, but Labour is still in power because Gordon Brown has decided to attempt to form a new government by courting the Liberal Democratic vote. However, David Cameron is also trying to woo the Liberal Democrats to his side. The problem is that, if we look at the logistics, even if Brown was able to bring all the other-than-Labour MPs to support him, no party will have a very clear mandate at all. (Complicated, eh?)  If Cameron can bring the Lib Dems to his side, then he will have a clear majority.

Until one side can get the others to come on board, the Labour government and Gordon Brown will continue to govern. (Yes, I know...which is why I am so proud of how we do things across the pond.)

However, there is a bit of a clinker. The Queen is the only one who can invite the person that she thinks can command the respect of the House of Commons to form a new government. She does this at every election and it is part of her role. Technically, (though she has never done it before) she can invite someone else other than Gordon Brown to form a new government.

That's correct, you heard me right.

Of course, Buckingham Palace does not want to have things get to this point. The Queen is maintaining her distance and is truly one of the most "unruffled" and strongest monarchs this country has ever had. She wants the politicians to sort it out among themselves. But, the word is that the Palace is already consulting constitutional experts to see exactly what would be the best course of action should it all come to this. One way or the other, the Palace will probably "advise" the politicians so that the decision will not rest on the Queen. Either Brown will resign making way for Cameron or Brown will stay. But the Queen still must "invite" someone to form a new government. Until this is done, the shift of power cannot take place.

So, I doubt that this scenario will be played out:

"Your Majesty...I managed to get the Lib Dems on board, and I want your permission to form a new government."

"Thank you Mr Brown...but you are the weakest link. Goodbye."  Oh that it would be that scintillating!

You know the obnoxious company that won't leave and it's after midnight?And you have a 7 a.m. wake-up call?

Now you understand how it feels for the British people right now.