What you can do for your country
Hang on. Is this classic reverse psychology? Does the Daily Mail actually WANT a hung parliament, for doubtless sinister reasons of its own?
Because it's hard to imagine that a major British newspaper could be edited by anyone SO stupid as to think this absurd, hysterical rubbish (based on an out-of-context quote EIGHT years old) could do anything but strengthen the feelings of anyone who's sick of the old Labour-Tory carve-up of this country. So let's help them, eh?
HangBritain.org is the latest of many websites that have popped up in recent days enthusiastically supporting the notion of a hung (or "balanced") parliament as a means to achieve electoral reform in the UK, to the point where we have something we can describe without shame as a "democracy".
On its site you can enter your postcode and find out how you can cast your vote so as to best contribute to a hung parliament. The organisation's theory is that in "safe" seats you should vote for the incumbent, so as not to risk those seats being lost and unexpectedly contributing to a "back door" majority for the other party, and in seats where a smaller party has a chance you should vote for them.
Now, personally I have some reservations about this policy. The Lib Dems' mandate for electoral reform will rest as much on the number of votes they get as the number of seats – in fact, the bigger the discrepancy between the two, the stronger their case. So even in seats where they have no hope of winning, voting for them has a meaningful purpose.
Indeed, any vote which isn't for Labour or the Tories also adds to the effect. If your constituency has a 20,000 majority and no realistic hope of a change in MP, even a vote for the Monster Raving Loonies is a vote cast that isn't for the big two, and that's much more valuable in terms of making the argument for reform. The lower the percentage of votes the big two get – regardless of the number of seats – the weaker their justification for opposing PR.
(And let's be clear – Brown's proposed move to Alternative Vote isn't just a weak, half-hearted attempt at the minimum reform he can get away with. Astonishingly, the Prime Minister thinks he can get away with electoral "reform" that will actually lead to power becoming even MORE consolidated in the big parties, not less.)
But tactics are a matter of opinion. What's important is the very existence of sites like HangBritain.org, which are sprouting up in response to the huge opportunity that's about to be handed to the British people. It's a signifier of what seems to be a real and powerful trend, which is gathering pace with every passing day, in the face of an increasingly panicked response from the establishment parties and media.
The electorate has had it up to here with "strong government" (a loaded term which would be more accurately, if less elegantly, described as "quasi-elected dictatorship"), as shown by the astonishingly off-message response of Daily Mail readers to the paper's attempt at doom-laden scaremongering. We'd like to try representative government for a change.
WoSblog isn't here to tell you who to vote for. But I'm happy to tell you who NOT to vote for. Next Thursday, PLEASE go out and vote. No matter how safe your seat is – no matter how little chance you have of changing your MP, no matter how pointless it seems – PLEASE get out and vote, for someone who ISN'T the Labour or Tory candidate. If you're in a safe seat it really doesn't matter who you pick, so let your conscience be your sole guide. But for the whole country's sake, if you're EVER going to vote, do it this time.
A hung parliament is tantalisingly within reach, but it's not a done deal yet. The latest polls show that Cameron could still achieve a majority while bypassing both Labour and the Lib Dems, by buying off the minor parties as Labour did with the Ulster Unionists in 2008 (to further erode our civil liberties by letting the government lock you up for six weeks without charge).
This is our chance. Don't leave it to everyone else – too much is at stake. Get out there and Hang Britain.