For Bismarck, politics was the art of the possible, while Napoleon would always ask of any general, “But is he lucky?” Put the two together and we can see politics as a game somewhere between chess and poker. Any politician has to gamble and take risks. He needs judgment, he needs nerve, but he also needs luck. Over the first weekend of May last year, Nick Clegg showed considerable skill in playing a poor hand. The voters had just delivered a somewhat oracular verdict in the British general election.
Two days after the British general election, Alan Watkins died. He was the doyen of London political columnists, after nearly half a century of writing weekly, wisely, and wittily about Parliament, and the Tories (his book, A Conservative Coup, is the best account of the fall of Margaret Thatcher), but, above all, the Labour Party, which he knew intimately.
I understand the practical difficulties associated with a Labor-Lib Dem coalition (among other things, it would rely on the votes of smaller parties). What I don't get this is objection that such a coalition would "have no moral legitimacy." It's true that the Conservatives won the most votes of any party, and that the Labor Party lost a lot of seats. It's also true, though, that left-of-center parties won more votes than right-of-center parties.
WASHINGTON—Britain produced an electoral earthquake all right, but not the one so many expected. The real lessons have less to do with two-party systems than with how economic change has challenged old strategies on both the right and the left. The Conservatives under David Cameron came in first with the most votes and the most seats.
Rick Hertzberg notes that if the Liberal Democrats get to hold the balance of power in the U.K. elections, they'll probably demand a referendum for proportional representation: There are many possibilities. But if you want to know what the Lib Dems really want—their beau ideal, their Holy Grail, their single-payer system—it was explained twenty-seven years ago, by the great John Cleese, in a ten-minute “party political broadcast” he made for the SDP/Liberal Alliance in the 1983 general election. The video is a fantastic find.
Overall Best One-Stop Shop Politics Home. With all the latest polls, headlines, and videos from the campaign trail, PoliticsHome is clearly the best and easiest-to-use election portal. It’s got enough detail to satisfy political junkies and plenty of overview material for novices and newcomers. Runner-up: the BBC. Best Conservative One-Stop Shop Conservative Home.
What, you ask, is going on? The honest answer is that no one in Britain really knows what is happening with our election.
LONDON -- Could Prime Minister Gordon Brown become the Harry Truman of British politics? For many long months, Brown and his Labor Party were written off as sure losers in this year's election, likely to be called for May 6. David Cameron, the young, energetic and empathetic Conservative Party leader, was all but handed Brown's job by the chattering classes, so consistent and formidable had been his lead in the polls. But suddenly, Cameron doesn't seem quite so inevitable. One recent poll showed Brown's party within two points of Cameron's.