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Tuesday 09 November 2010

Analysis: Thatcher's Unquiet Ghost?

Posted in: Features
By Craig Young - 7th May 2010

David Cameron
As predicted, the British Conservative Party has failed to win enough seats at its general election, leaving a hung parliament and the Liberal Democrats installed as kingmakers.

What does this mean for LGBT communities there?

Why were the Tories denied outright victory? One does feel sorry for David Cameron, the Tory leader, whose centre-right social liberalism modernised his party's frontbeach- but as we can now plainly see, there were limits to the depth and scale of that modernisation. Indeed, Tory peer Lord David Ashcroft and fundamentalist Christian party donors, as well as extremist social conservative electoral candidates, may have been responsible for the Conservative pyrrhic 'victory'. They couldn't shut up for the good of the party and may have doomed it to opposition for another five years, if not longer.

No doubt in depth exit polling will find other causes, but one of them certainly seems to have been their adverse contribution, as well as accomodation of Tory Eurosceptics and damage to European Union centre-right collegiality with Merkel's CDU and Nicholas Sarkozy's centre-right administration. It may have also added further questions about the depth and scope of internal Tory reform. Cameron leads a divided party.

He ran a strong campaign, but in the end, his predecessor Margaret Thatcher haunted the Tories. She provides potent and recent memories of social exclusion, divisiveness, social inequality and government repression. She may have cursed her successors through the blighted memories of the eighties and the instability of the nineties, when she deliberately undermined her successor, John Major.

He can console himself with Gordon Brown's probable resignation, if that is the price of a Labour/Liberal Democrat coalition. As for naysayers, they conveniently forget Welsh and Scottish Labour/Liberal Democrat coalitions under their proportional representation, devolved assemblies. And the prospect of securing their cherished goals of electoral and constitutional reform, and locking the Tories out of power until more comprehensive reform has occurred, may be too tempting for the Liberal Democrats.

As for British LGBT communities, if there is a Labour/Liberal Democrat coalition as a consequence of this hung parliament, then one happy outcome might well be a written constitution and equality rights provisions that would include that country's LGBT communities and other human rights and civil liberties guarantees, as well as the Single Transferable Vote as a far superior proportional representation electoral system to Britain's First Past the Post electoral system, one of the probable casualties of the result today.

Craig Young - 7th May 2010

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