A Phoenix or a headless chicken?

Labour's Rebecca Long-Bailey struggles to explain £30billion black hole in  Labour's spending plans during car crash interview

Written by Harry Johnson 

Since we have moved away from a purely first past the post election system to a mixed-member proportional system it has become nigh impossible for a single party or at times groups of parties to secure a majority. Whether that is good or not is ultimately another argument worth its own discussion, but at the end of the day, we have a system that represents the wishes of the electorate quite well indeed.

A  byproduct of such an arrangement is frequent minority governments. Governments with no majority or in other words capability to pass legislation through both Houses, which according to the pre-2014 mentality of British politics should not be or should be kept to the bare minimum. Yet normally this would not be a problem as more often than not some sort of a compromise can be hammered out between the big 4 parties as was the case when Blurple and Clegg governments managed to pass their budgets.

However, all of this ultimately hinges on middle ground existing. In the case of the Blurple budget, it was a common commitment to a dynamic market economy that brought the government and the Classical Liberals together. Under Clegg, it was quite frankly Labour selling its voters down the water, but the official reason is that Labour wanted to avoid the aforementioned Blurple budget from coming into force. Perhaps another good example of such consensus politics at work could be the Brexit government which saw multiple parties working together to get Brexit done despite their differences.

What happens however if this formula breaks down for one reason or another? Say a left-wing coalition of fewer than 40 seats found itself with the keys to number 10 despite a right-wing Parliament. There is not much common ground between either of the Blurple parties and the ultimately left-wing government, which has pledged to overturn many flagship Tory and Libertarian policies like the right to buy and TUBFRA. To add insult to injury many flagship policies of the Phoenix government are either physically impossible as is the case with the 2030 carbon neutrality deadline or too vague to be properly assessed. 

 Ultimately there is so much one can do through statutory instruments and royal prerogative ,which contrary to Solidarity’s belief is quite limited in scope. Any statutory instruments the government does indeed push through can be quite easily negated by a simple vote in Parliament or the case of most treaties indefinitely delayed thanks to the mechanisms of the Ponsonby convention. On the issue of a budget, the only shot the government would have at passing anything resembling a budget is if a deal could be struck with either of the Opposition parties, which is far from a safe bet considering how far ideologically apart the right and the government are.

Moreover, there have also been unconfirmed rumors that the coalition is yet to even formulate the composition of its cabinet and that no agenda has been properly discussed including the urgent issue of the Chagos Islands and the government’s apparent plan to withdraw from the islands entirely without talking to Parliament. We also still don’t know what sort of a Brexit deal the government has elected or will elect to pursue in the coming weeks and months.

Simply put the current government is not a Phoenix, but a headless chicken. A lame-duck with no majority nor the ability to pass most of its legislation. It is only a matter of time before the sun sets on the  Phoenix just like it did with the Sunrise government before.

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