Notes from the front – of the week 5/5/2015

Kick out the Tories! – Ed Miliband should be next PM!

With opinion polls continuing to suggest a neck-and-neck race and no party likely to get an overall majority, the Tory campaign to cling on to office is feverish. New ‘constitutional’ conventions are being invented daily, such as the spurious contention that the largest party – in seats or votes – must be allowed to form a government. And it has been declared that on the one hand Scots can vote for whoever they like, but if it is the SNP they should be excluded from government influence.

The newly minted ‘constitutional’ condition is only being put forward now because the Tories and their media backers believe they will be the largest party but not command a majority in Parliament, even including the Lib Dems and north of Ireland unionists. The truth is, in the British electoral system, legitimacy derives from having a majority in Parliament for your programme, which is not necessarily achievable by the largest party (by seats or votes).

The dominant sections of the British ruling class are united in calling for a renewed Tory – Lib Dem coalition, as they accept the Tories will not win an overall majority on their own. The editorials of the Financial Times and The Economist were remarkably similar on this line. There cannot be even the minutest deviation from renewed and fierce austerity measures after the election. A minority Labour or Labour-led coalition government is not trusted to pursue austerity relentlessly enough, particularly if it depends for its majority on support from parties that have campaigned on an explicit anti-austerity platform.

For Labour the correct course is clear. If there is an anti-Tory majority in Parliament, even if Labour is not the largest party, it should insist on forming the government.

Both the likely parliamentary arithmetic and the political imperative to break with Tory politics point in the direction of some sort of agreement between Labour and the SNP – which is why there is a relentless campaign against this. Clegg would clearly prefer a Lib Dem deal with the Tories rather than talk to Labour and appears to have done a grubby deal which concedes a referendum on Europe in order to save his own parliamentary seat. In any event, it seems unlikely that the Lib Dems will have sufficient seats to provide the Tories with a stable coalition government. If a Labour-led government means relying on the SNP rather than the Lib Dems, so much the better.

The Tories should be kicked out of office. Labour should not flinch from taking it.