Thursday, 17 September 2009

Conservatives seek national mandate, as polls continue to show lead in Wales.

It is commonly asserted that, should the Conservative party win the next election, it will have no mandate, or a negligible mandate, outside England. The moral authority of the Westminster government will therefore be undermined, it is argued, and nationalism will draw strength from a Tory victory. Of course, conversely, the Conservatives might well be the only party to return MPs from all four corners of the United Kingdom.

The Guardian’s Martin Kettle reminds us that, following the next election, polls indicate that David Cameron’s party will have become the biggest party in Wales, dislodging Labour, for the first time in a century. Kettle concludes that although it is premature to describe Wales as a ‘Conservative nation’, it is no longer tenable to term it a ‘Labour nation’ either.

In Scotland Tory revival has been less marked, but although the party can claim only one in forty Westminster seats, it gained a sixth of the Scottish vote in 2005. In the Scottish parliament, where a proportional system operates, the Conservatives returned sixteen MSPs. Even under first past the post, the Tories have a number of target seats which should increase their Commons representation in Scotland. Polls are variable, but have shown up to 21% of Scots voters intend to vote Conservative at the next general election (YouGov).

In Northern Ireland, the new Conservatives and Unionists alliance has only been tested in a European poll. If a strong slate of candidates is fielded, though, and if a positive, coherent campaign is fought, Northern Ireland could well return representation to the Conservative benches.

Britain is a state of four constituent parts. Any party which is returned, with a majority nationally, has a mandate to govern the UK. However, with the greater number of MPs in two of the composite countries, and members drawn from each corner of the Kingdom, the mandate would be overwhelming, politically and morally.


Anonymous said...

None have mandate without proportional representation. If only we had sottish voting system in westminster.

Chekov said...

No-one would have a mandate with PR! No government has been returned with over 50% of the vote since the 1930s.

Keith Ruffles said...

Something else to consider - devolution to those areas outside England should temper the arguments of those who claim a Westminster dominated by a party with few MPs drawn from Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland will result in resentment of an 'England-foisted' parliament. That those devolved parts of the UK can enjoy some form of self-government provides a balance that might not otherwise have occured in times past when a similar situation may have arisen...

Anonymous said...

Keith hits the nail on the head - devolution recognises the sensitivities of the nations and regions. The mandate for Westminster must by definition UK wide
Pro Union politicans must get on the front foot in this argument before the GE.
Bob Wilson