The Labour Party and Conservative Party in Britain find themselves in a very similar position to that of the ALP and the Liberal-National Party in Australia in 2010. With the British election just days away, Conservative Party leader David Cameron and Labour Party leader Ed Miliband are locked in a tight battle for the prime minister’s position, with talks of a hung parliament heating up, according to media reports. This was indeed the case in Australia in 2010 when ALP’s Julia Gillard just quipped LNP’s Tony Abbott by the narrowest of margins to take the nation’s top job, thanks to a deal with the independents and Greens.
To form government, Gillard was forced to make a deal with independents Tony Windsor, Rob Oakeshott and Andrew Wilkie, and the Greens’ Adam Bandt. With this alliance, the ALP had 76 seats in the House of Representatives compared to LNP’s 74 seats. This make-up of government meant that any by-election, ministerial misdemeanor or government failure could result in the government losing power.
Media reports suggest that Britain is going down the exact same path. Like in Australia, it seems the leader of the Labour Party has a very narrow edge over the current Prime Minister and Conservative Party leader. Before the election campaign started, Miliband was considered too weak to lead Britain, and his approval ratings toyed with the lowest ever recorded for a leader of a major party. There were even suggestions of a coup. This move actually occurred in Australia when Gillard ousted the then Prime Minister Kevin Rudd just prior to the 2010 election to become the ALP leader, a move which divided Australia.
Unlike Australia though, the Labour Party in Britain stayed with its leader, a decision that now seems to be paying off. With only days until Britain decides, Miliband is favorite to become prime minister, but is unlikely to win a majority Labour government, according to polls, demonstrating the big battle ahead of the Labour Party. He may be in a position to lead a coalition of parties, but he has come out to say that he will not make any deals or coalitions with other parties. Scottish National Party (SNP) leader Nicola Sturgeon said if Miliband attempted to lead a minority Labour government without any deals, he would put her party in a very good position to exert influence and win changes on an issue-by-issue basis.
With this change in polls in favor of the Labour Party, Cameron is now delivering the message that a Labour government led by Miliband would mean “chaos.” This is the exact same word that Abbott used to describe a potential ALP government in Australia in 2010.
If media reports are anything to go by, it seems the upcoming British election is definitely set for a close battle between the Labour Party and Conservative Party, which could mean the situation is likely to continue to remain unknown for days or possibly weeks after Election Day. This is because it is likely that both parties will be desperately trying to form alliances with other parties to try to form a majority government.
By Rebecca Brown