Three years ago today our house was flooded as a result of a major storm which hit Berkshire and flooded thousands of properties in West Berkshire alone. The nearby Glade Festival was flooded and children from the local school had to be evacuated by boat.
You would hope that by now our property would have been completely fixed and returned to normal. That would of course assume that the loss adjuster, the insurance company, their various sub contractors and the four sets of builders who have so far departed the job without succeeding in completing the job could organise a proverbial in a brewery.
Instead we have had a long litany of problems from loss adjusters and builders who refused to remove the wet plaster and so delayed the drying process to builders for whom the term “cowboys” would have been polite and who seemed to think that laying wet wood as a floor would solve the problem that was caused by oh yes the wooden floor getting wet! Then there were the packers from the removal company who thought packing priceless pots in with books and labelling the box “books” so it could be stacked neatly in their storage facility was a bright idea. The problem was of course that the boxes of books crushed the ones underneath full of pots and destroyed the pottery in the process.
The latest in a long line of contractors is arriving on Thursday to assess how best to begin the process of yet again attempting to get us a floor that is not either non existent, wet, warped or full of holes. Fingers crossed.
It is interesting to look back now at the last six weeks.
A hard-fought campaign during which I felt that the Liberal Democrats by and large put our best foot forward. The innovation of the TV debates certainly turned things on their head for a while and Nick Cleggs great performances meant that the Liberal Democrats were suddenly polling above 30% and in many polls were actually running second ahead of Labour. Even though this seemed to drift away gradually towards the end of election it looked like we were headed for a great result. Even on polling day the atmosphere and vibe was really good. The exit poll at 10pm was shockingly negative (and at the time it seemed it could not be right) but within a few hours as the ballots came pouring out of the boxes (certainly in Liverpool where I was ) it became all too clear that the Liberal Democrat surge had largely been squeezed.
So we were left with a hung parliament that has led to a Liberal Democrat / Conservative coalition government
How do I feel about this?
On the one hand it is hard to stomach being in bed with the Conservatives
On the other hand it is probably the only logical conclusion given the precise verdict of the electorate.
The proposed coalition with the Labour Party was clearly not a runner given
- The attitude of those sent to negotiate with the Liberal Democrats
- The attitude of many senior Labour figures commenting in public whilst those discussions were taking place
- The likelihood of such a coalition falling with only 315 votes in the House of Commons.
- The likelihood of a subsequent General Election leading to a further squeeze on Labour and the Liberal Democrats so leading to a majority Conservative Government
The other main option would have been a Conservative Minority Government. This too would probably not have lasted very long and again would have led to a subsequent General Election and a majority Conservative Government.
So coalition it is and an opportunity to put some of our policies into practice and at the same time hopefully demonstrate that a hung parliament is not necessarily a bad thing in that it forces politicians to work together and hopefully eliminates some of the worst excesses that occur when one party with maybe as little as 25% of the population supporting them takes all the power.
So roughly a third of the British electorate would like to see a Liberal Democrat Government or so at least the opinion polls seem to indicate at present. Roughly the same amount want a Tory Government and slightly less would like to see a Labour Government.
According to the UK Polling report calculator a result along the lines of 33% Tory, 32% Liberal Democrat and 27% Labour with 8% others would lead to the following result (assuming a uniform swing).
- Labour - 255 seats (for the party in third place)
- Conservative – 246 seats (for the party in first place)
- Liberal Democrat – 118 seats (for the party in second place)
- Others – 31 seats
Aside from the obvious inequities of the first past the post system on such a result there is interesting news from YouGov.
According to Peter Kellner YouGov asked “How would you vote on May 6 if you thought the Liberal Democrats had a significant chance of winning the election”.
The response they got was staggering as follows :
- Liberal Democrat 49%
- Conservative 25%
- Labour 19%
- Others 7%
Let us assume for a minute that half of the people who need to be persuaded that the Liberal Democrats can win the election can actually be persuaded that this is so. Not all of them just half of them.
This might leave us with the following percentage votes assuming slightly more gain from Labour than the Tories
- Liberal Democrat 40.5%
- Conservative 29.5%
- Labour 23%
- Others 7%
On the same basis of a uniform swing this would achieve the following result
- Labour - 155 seats (for the party in third place)
- Conservative - 178 seats (for the party in second place)
- Liberal Democrat - 288 seats (for the party in first place)
- Others - 29 seats
At least a result which is more representative of the actual votes……and on a non uniform swing who know what might happen.
If people voted as per the YouGov poll then the figures (again on a uniform swing) would be as follows.
- Labour - 19 seats (for the party in third place)
- Conservative - 25 seats (for the party in second place)
- Liberal Democrat - 548 seats (for the party in first place)
- Others - 15 seats
Again this would show up the madness of first past the post – still at least it would put the Liberal Democrat Members of Parliament into the position where they would be the turkeys voting for an early Christmas as we moved to a proportional system!
First last night debate and Nicks fantastic performance against Cameron and Brown, then an opinion poll showing the Liberal Democrats on 35% (later adjusted properly to 24%) and now the latest YouGov poll shows us on 30% and in second place and only 3 points behind the Conservatives. Labour meanwhile have slipped to third place with 28%. What a great boost to all our candidates fighting so hard on the ground to grow the size of our parliamentary party. That swing in itself will mean that the Tories will suddenly find themselves threatened in seats where they previously though they were safe such as Newbury and Guildford – both seats where we have experienced former Members of Parliament standing.
The situation in Thailand seems to be gradually becoming more and more chaotic. After days of protest involving peacefully taken blood being daubed on government buildings real blood has been spilt in the last few days and the latest estimates seem to indicate that 21 people have been killed and as many as 900 injured as the military attempted to deal with the red shirt protestors. The good news is that the military ,at least, seem to be having second thoughts and have drawn back from the conflict with the army chief now suggesting that parliament should be dissolved. According to the BBC Gen Anupong Paojinda stated ” The best solution of this is to dissolve the House. I don’t want to intervene in politics but I guess the end will be a House dissolution. Political problems must be solved by political means. House dissolution is a solution but that must be done after a clear time-frame is set.” Meanwhile a further intervention has come from the Electoral Commission which voted to seek dissolution of the Democrat Party led by the Prime Minister in connection with allegations of financial irregularities surrounding the last election. However, it has also been reported that the red shirts have rejected an offer to dissolve parliament at some point in the next six to nine months and are continuing to push for an immediate dissolution. Watch this space for anything from a dissolution at gun point through to a further military coup. Whatever the outcome I am sure that the military will play a key role in the coming days.
According to the BBC the Thai Prime Minister has declared a state of emergency in Bangkok to deal with the ongoing anti-government protests. A couple of days ago protestors were occupying key up market shopping centres and now they have marched on parliament as part of their campaign to get the government to resign and call fresh elections. The state of emergency gives powers to security forces to help restore order so I guess there will be troops back on the streets of Bangkok again. I still think that all sides need to get together and firm up a consensus constitution or form a government of national unity if there is to be any serious attempt to resolve this issue. Further elections either now or later are not going to help if the powers that be will not recognise the legitimacy of those elected to represent the rural poor.