This Is What Every Potential Coalition Government Could Look Like

Welcome to a world under joint Labour-Green leadership, where the UK scraps Trident and nationalises Pret.
October 31, 2019, 12:30pm
boris johnson lookalike
Photo: Imageplotter News and Sports / Alamy Stock Photo

This December, we're going into the biggest crapshoot of an election in modern times.

Any first past the post system is designed for a two-party system: blue or red. But in recent years the British electoral map has become more and more a game of hungry hippos. Red could take a chunk out of orange, meaning yellow beats blue. Or green could take a chunk out of red, making blue ultimate victors over orange. Not forgetting the new challenger for 2019: the turquoise of the Brexit party.

While Boris might be enjoying a gentle romp in the polls, the polls are normally given in percentages – as though we had proportional representation. In truth, as more and more constituencies become three-way marginals, the odds of any one party dominating become slimmer and the election turns into a semi-randomised dice. With Labour hobbled in Scotland, and the Brexit Party rising in Wales, another coalition government is ever-more likely.

But what could we expect from any particular Liquorice Allsort?

CONSERVATIVES-LIB DEMS

It's 2010 all over again! A decade on, this time it's Jo Swinson and BoJo in the Rose Garden, mooning at each other. Under Johnson's blowtorch charm, Swinson giggles as he does a funny about Ovid's Ars Amatoria. The Sun runs with "BoJo And JoSwo Show Mo' Mojo".

After the small matter of Brexit is dealt with by national plebiscite, the business of government is back on.

With the Conservatives already committed to opening the spending hose on police and hospitals, the toxicity of cuts is no longer a major issue. The Lib Dems are permitted to work on their eye-catching initiatives: "Safe Standing" at football grounds, the creation of ten new garden cities and a Database of Rogue Landlords and Letting Agents.

But it's in drugs where the worlds of liberalism and free market economics show the greatest synergy. A new Ministry for Cannabis Legalisation is established under Norman Lamb, with a five-year plan to "make Britain a world leader in cannabis production". Within 18 months, JD Wetherspoon are doing Two White Widow Blunts and a Curry for £9.99 every Wednesday.

SNP-LABOUR

As Labour hang onto their heartlands, an unexpectedly good showing in university towns means they can make it across the line with the support of the SNP, who have swept the board in Scotland.

It's no surprise to anyone when the SNP name their price: an independence referendum. With Brexit still outstanding, as Yes shades it in Year Two, there are now two houses on fire. By the time England also votes to secede from the United Kingdom in Year Four, everyone's just plain confused.

LABOUR-GREEN

Caroline Lucas becomes the new Arlene Foster as the Greens sneak through the gaps to gain five MPs. They become the junior coalition partner that takes Labour into a minority government (on the principle that the SNP still won't vote for anything the Tories want).

But just as Cameron and Clegg used the opportunity in 2010 to junk manifesto pledges they didn't particularly agree with themselves, before blaming it on the the other guy, so Corbyn and Lucas use the opportunity to implement policies that they secretly agree with.

For instance, Corbyn claims the Greens forced him to scrap Trident. Britain falls out of the Special Relationship and becomes the first nation to voluntarily give up its seat on the UN Security Council.

A massive process of de-Thatcherisation is brought in. Everything, from the Royal Mail, to water, to care workers, are brought back into public ownership. Pret and Greggs are jointly nationalised into the National Sandwich Service, and various NHS canteen managers take over the menu choices.

boris farage

Photo: David Collingwood / Alamy Stock Photo

CONSERVATIVE-BREXIT PARTY

Nigel Farage is defeated in his attempt to stand as an MP in South Thanet for a seventh time, but is elevated into government by becoming a member of the House of Lords. Lord Farage of Dulwich is installed as Deputy-Prime Minister, First Lord of the Admiralty and Immigration Minister.

Boris is delighted to be able to tell the softer part of his party that his hands are now bound. The nation is put on high alert for what civil servants are trained to call Clean Break Brexit.

But before any negotiation can be finalised, the Brexit Party's awkward seams start to split. With 30 MPs and no policies except for "Brexit", big fractures soon open up between the libertarians (Claire Fox types) and the social conservatives (Ann Widdecombe types).

Within weeks, a third of MPs join the Tory Party, a third stick it out with Nigel and a third (led by Martin Daubney) decide they are the "new centre", existing in a Change UK-The Independent Group-style limbo for a few months before slinking off to join the Tory Party.

LABOUR-LIB DEMS

The people who were voting for Labour because they hate middle class leftists are finally united with the people voting for the Lib Dems because they hate working class leftists. The long-prophesied unification of the left is achieved.

But it's still the metropolitan classes of each party that form the glue. Which is why their joint agenda just feels so… student union – a grand coalition of political correctness and green stuff.

The EU reopens negotiations and a new five-year transitional arrangement kicks the can firmly down the road.

CONSERVATIVE-DUP

More of the same, just shriller.

CONSERVATIVE-LABOUR

Not impossible. Just look at Germany right now, where a "grand coalition" of the centre-left SDP and centre-right CDU holds power against the AfD. They'd call it a "government of national unity". It would rely in part on both parties decapitating themselves in order to sell the deal to voters. Corbyn takes up a new role as "Executive Chairman" of Labour, his supporters assured that he will make sure "the spirit of the Momentum revolution is central to decision-making", while Keir Starmer is brought in as PM, with Sajid Javid as Deputy PM.

The possibilities for policy overlap are almost nil: this is simply about mucking out the Brexit stables. The Tories trade a Second Referendum for maintaining Boris' original deal as the agreement that will be "put to the people".

When Leave wins, Labour apparatchiks confess they secretly aren't too bothered about it. They just wanted to get back to selling their domestic agenda. Which could be why Labour once again mounted a peculiarly lacklustre referendum campaign…

@gavhaynes