England & Wales

Hung Parliament

The political mood has changed.  Where in 2009 there was a presumption that there would be a Conservative government, the prevailing mood now is one of great uncertainty.   I was briefing the Cabinet of a Conservative led council recently and they wanted to spend equal time thinking through what would happen if the Consevatives don’t win a general election.  I also talk to Conservative MPs who cautiously muse on how difficult it will be for the Conservatives to win an outright majority.     We talk of hung parliaments and coalition government as an exotic prospect but in local goverment there are many very effective formal and informal power sharing agreements in place in local authorities.   These arrangements prove surprisingly durable in local government, often lasting over a four year political cycle, as in the high profile examples in Birmingham and Leeds since 2006.     When I went up last year to see the co-Leader of Leeds, Cllr Richard Brett he told me about how the power sharing between the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats has worked effectively from his point of view.   If there is a hung parliament Westminster would do well to look for advice from local government about how to make power sharing work.