So this morning the intertubes is all excited about the prospect of what they’re calling on Twitter the #torycoup.
Roughly speaking, the idea is that in the event of a hung parliament, David Cameron isn’t going to wait patiently for Gordon Brown to deliberate at leisure over his future as prime minister, but is going publicly to declare victory and demand “the keys to Number 10” (which is a funny expression, as the famous front door to 10 Downing St doesn’t have a keyhole in it); and that he’ll be cheered on in doing this by the rightwing press. The normally very sensible Sunder Katwala sets out the argument and the evidence over here, and a version of the argument has also been posted over here.
Count me as seriously unimpressed.
There’s a lot wrong with the British constitution, but one of its virtues is that things get made up as we go along. There’s something absolutely bonkers about lefties – of all people – getting all precious about the ways in which the Cabinet Secretary’s memo about the proper procedures in the event of a hung parliament might not be followed to the letter, or worrying that – my goodness! – the Queen might be drawn into political controversy. How undignified!
People are making analogies with the presidential election in the United States in 2000 — but what was striking then was far more the spinelessness of the Dems rather than the unscrupulousness of the Repugs. The bottom line is that politics is about power, and if the Tories are the only ones willing to play hardball, then – bluntly – good for them. If the Queen discredits herself along the way by being pressured into being openly partisan, then that’s a good thing, as it’ll work to hasten the end of this stupid monarchy. And if voters disapprove of what the Tories are doing, then they’ll punish them when they get the chance. That’s democracy.