Reviews

‘Honoured that you are writing my father’s biography’ the late Tony Benn, ‘...wonderfully written’ Hilary Benn

‘Sparkles with fascinating detail…a remarkable story of Liberal and Labour politics in the first half of the twentieth century.’ Michael Crick, Political Correspondent, Channel 4 News

‘Casts much light both on the evolution of British radicalism, and on the legacy which he bequeathed to his son, Tony. Professor Vernon Bogdanor, King's College, London

‘Brilliant biography…wonderful reading about the father and...discovering more about the son.’ Steve Richards of The Independent

‘Well-written and carefully researched, this fascinating biography brings to life a major figure in British political history…an excellent job of weaving together the strands of a complex life…as well as filling in the background of the Benn family’ Richard Doherty, military historian
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Tuesday, 25 February 2014

Coalition v Minority Government. Which is Better?

There is some talk of a minority government after 2015. What does history tell us about the track records of minority governments, compared to coalitions?

Britain has had several minority governments:

The first Labour government in 1924

The second Labour government 1929-31

Harold Wilson’s government between elections of February and October 1974

The end of Jim Callaghan’s government leading up to 1979

The end of John Major’s government in 1997


The country has also had coalitions during this time:

The National Governments of 1931 to 1940

Churchill’s wartime coalition 1940 to 1945

The current Conservative/LibDem coalition since 2010.


Whatever your political allegiance, it is hard to argue that the track records of the minority governments is better than that of the coalitions.

In terms of stability, the longevity of the coalition governments far exceeds that of the minority governments.

We can all make our choice of how to interpret the history, but in 2015 how many voters would opt for a minority government over a coalition, based on the histories of the two?

It is interesting that the voices in favour of a minority govenment come from the right of the Conservative Party and the left of Labour. A minority government would almost certainly give the more extreme elements a bigger influence on their party. Sir John Major's experience after his majority disappeared at the end of his premiership can testify to this.

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