Thursday, June 3

Strange bedfellows

As I was boarding my plane to New York last month televisions across the airport terminal were broadcasting live images of British history in the making. The former Prime Minister Gordon Brown was announcing his resignation, before driving to Buckingham Palace to officially inform the Queen. This moment marked the end of five fascinating days as Britain’s first coalition Government in 70 years negotiated the terms of its eventual political union.

The Conservatives agreed to form a coalition government with the Liberal Democrats. This is the first time these two parties have ever agreed to a power sharing deal at a national level. Conservative leader David Cameron leads the new government as Prime Minister, while the Liberal Democrat’s leader Nick Clegg serves as deputy prime minister. The Lib Dems also have five seats in Cabinet with a further 15 ministerial jobs likely to follow.

I found the daily political twists and turns of this unfolding news story fascinating. The local media went into a collective frenzy immediately after the election. The reaction was completely out of kilter with reality. Unlike the UK, coalition governments are the norm across Europe as only five nations here are currently governed by a single party holding a majority of the electorate’s primary vote.

I think the new coalition will be good for Britain. Last month’s election result forced two parties to merge their policies, resulting a legislative agenda that now meets more of the electorate’s expectations. During the election both parties had held unnecessary extreme positions on several policies as they attempted to quash internal dissent. Now, with negotiations over, the new coalition’s revised policy agenda is actually something I rather like. I’m sure much of the electorate feels the same.

In fact, the creation of a Coalition government seems to have gone some way to neutralizing the influence of both party’s extremists. I'll support anything that reverses the trend of endless polarising partisan politics. This change can only bode well at a time when public confidence in politics and politicians is at an all time low. Garry and I have certainly picked an interesting time to live and work in the UK.

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