Posts Tagged ‘Gerhard Schroeder’

A British ‘Grand Coalition’ would be destined for failure

23/01/2015, 04:46:01 PM

by Callum Anderson

The 2015 general election campaign is now slowly in full swing. With four months to go, many of the electorate are already beginning to tire of the petty point-scoring between the party leaders about the leadership debates.

Yet, the answer to the question former prime minister Ted Heath famously asked: ‘Who governs Britain?’ could be rather inconclusive come 8th May.

The opinion polls suggest that this election will be too close to call, with some suggesting we are entering an era of four, five or maybe even six party politics – though Labour Uncut’s editor Atul Hatwal’s makes a set of very plausible predictions.

But whatever happens, the implications for our democracy could be enormous.

It is highly unlikely that either Labour or the Conservatives will gain quite enough seats to gain a majority in Parliament. Parliamentary arithmetic will determine whether either party is best placed to seek to form a minority administration or enter a coalition, or confidence-and-supply arrangement with someone such as the Liberal Democrats or Scottish.

Yet there are some such as Ian Birrell and Mary Dejevsky who claim that a UK Grand Coalition – that is a coalition between Labour and the Conservatives – should not be fled out. They argue that the fact that both parties are currently marooned in the low 30s in terms of share of the vote, the two main parties would put their differences aside to govern in the national interest.

Does such an arrangement have a post-war precedent elsewhere? Yes.

Will it happen in Britain in 2015. No.

In Germany, a so-called ‘Grand Coalition’ (or, colloquially, GroKo) has been the principal form of government in the twenty-first century. Between 2005 and 2009, followed by the current administration since 2013, Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats (CDU) have shared power alongside the Social Democrats (SDP).


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If copying the German model is as the answer, Labour doesn’t understand the question

11/11/2013, 11:09:16 AM

by David Butler

Jonathan Wilson’s masterpiece on football tactics, Inverting The Pyramid, sets out how success on the pitch regularly came through great managers innovating with formations and strategies. But this success was often fleeting; Alf Ramsey’s “wingless wonders” quickly reached a nadir in failing to qualify for the 1974 World Cup. Other teams absorbed the successful strategies and modified them, sometimes completely overhauling them. This drove change in the game as teams sought new marginal advantages. Those who sought merely to directly copy and not innovate themselves were left trailing in the dust. This is the danger that deifying a single system brings, from football to economics, and why we should go beyond Germany in thinking about a new capitalism.

Germany acts as a lodestar for those in the vanguard of Milibandism. This is not a new phenomenon on the left; in a speech in 1980, Denis Healey praised the social market as a middle path between Bennism and free market right. For Will Hutton in the mid 1990s, it offered a post-Thatcherite path for Britain. Now, once again, Germany is supposed to point the way towards developing a “supply side of the left” and the transformation of Britain into a European-style social democracy.

Importing individual economic institutions is difficult enough, let alone copying large sets of institutions from a single economic model. In labour-management relations, for example, there are sizeable differences between our island home and the continent. Continental unions are traditionally less adversarial towards management and this enables more consensual institutions to flourish.

The historic conservatism of the labour movement towards their internal structures makes the prospect of Continental-style unionism a dim one. This is not a land without hope; USDAW and Community have been successful in gaining localised victories and engaging (often younger) new members.

Unite have attempted engagement through community organising and launching a credit union. Business too would have to modify its approach towards labour relations. One only needs to look at the behaviour of Ineos and Unite at Grangemouth to see that there is a long path to walk before Britain will achieve more cooperative labour-management relations.


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