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THE IMPACT ON UK/US RELATIONS The British Election of 2010.

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Presentation on theme: "THE IMPACT ON UK/US RELATIONS The British Election of 2010."— Presentation transcript:

1 THE IMPACT ON UK/US RELATIONS The British Election of 2010

2 The Context of the Election Like John Major in 1992 and 1997, Gordon Brown waited out his five year term. The election took place with a looming economic crisis in terms of the UK budget deficit with major public spending cuts in the offing. For past two years Brown facing almost inevitable defeat  Economic Problems  Personally Unpopular But Conservatives needed record swing of votes and seats to win a majority (6.5%) Doubts about David Cameron and drop in Tory lead Spring 2010 Liberal Democrat vote the unknown factor.

3 The Campaign Biggest new feature in the campaign – The TV debates Presidentialized the contest? Boosted the status of the Liberal Democratic leader Nick Clegg – especially the first debate Liberal Democrat surge in the polls Brown damaged by “bigoted woman” gaffe Conservatives and Labour came back late in the campaign – typical pattern – and squeezed LDs

4 Vote Share Seats CON 36.1% (+3.8) LAB 29.0% (-6.2) LD 23.0% (+1) OTH 11.9% Swing 5% From LAB to CON CON 306 (+97) LAB 258 (-91) LD 57 (-5) OTH 28 326 for Majority Hung Parliament The Result

5 UK Election Map 2010

6 Coalition Government Hung parliament has only occurred at one other post-WWII election – February 1974 But first half of the twentieth century minority or coalition governments more common than otherwise Cameron interested in being in government because:  Tories out of power for 13 years  Minority government would be too unstable to administer tough economic medicine to deal with UK budget deficit  Coalition with the Liberal Democrats makes him less dependent on hardcore anti-EU Tory right Clegg and his party might have preferred Labour but:  Chance at real power with Cabinet seats  Alliance with Labour still would not have reached 326 seats  “Coalition of the losers”  Adverse effect on Economy

7 The Deal Liberal Democrats support cuts in public expenditure ($6 billion) Conservatives jettison some tax reductions for well-off Consensus on School and Health reform Political Reform:  Referendum on AV as Westminster Voting System  House of Lords reform (proportional election)  Fixed term parliaments (55% no-confidence trigger)  Reduction in number of MPs and boundary changes for more equal constituencies Overall pretty good deal for Cameron and the Tories Can coalition survive likely popular backlash on hardline economic policies?

8 Implications for US:I Conservatives traditionally regarded as pro-US but since 1945 most tensions with US occurred under Conservative PMs  Suez  Kennedy/Macmillan  Heath/Nixon  Major/Clinton Conservatives equivocal at best on Iraq war Liberal Democrats hostile to UK military commitments on Iraq and Afghanistan Conservatives most skeptical of EU and opposed to further integration BUT Liberal Democrats almost Euro-Federalists! Foreign Secretary Hague is a Conservative Atlanticist (note early visit to Washington) so Tory views likely to prevail in this area

9 Implications for US:II US needs the new UK government to begin sorting out the country’s economic problems Fear of spillover from financial meltdown that would negatively impact US economy (Greece x 10!) Want stable UK government to support US in Afghanistan and play traditional bridge role to other EU nations Defeat of Labour ends the Clinton/Blair “third way” era for center left parties. Will Labour in opposition head in a more leftward anti- US direction in opposition as occurred in the 1980s?

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