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7 May, 2010 14:45

Britain needs decisive government - conservative think-tank rep

As millions of people across the UK have cast their ballots in the country’s general election, it is not yet clear who will get the country’s top job. Recent polls indicate the country might end with a hung parliament.

According to Brian Cattell, Secretary of the conservative think tank the Bow Group, if this is the case, tackling Britain’s most challenging issues is not going to be an easy task.

“This is probably the most important election in the generation. Britain faces a lot of different problems, economic problems above all, but also social problems. I think that both the markets and probably a lot of people in this country want a decisive government,” says Brian Cattell.

“If you have a hung parliament you won’t get that, because you’ll have days of wrangling and deals being done and that will be bad for the markets and bad for the country,” he adds.

Mr. Cattell agrees with the opinion that economic issues are the focal point in this election, as people are worried about unprecedented debts and the high level of unemployment.

“In many ways, this is the opportunity for the British government to gibe their verdict of the last 13 years of the management of the economy. I think in a lot of cases people will conclude that the economy has not been managed well,” says Mr Cattell.

As for foreign policies, Mr Cattell believes the policies will depend on the government that will come to power.

“David Cameron, the leader of the Conservative party, has a very strong track-record of support for the special relationship with the US. If he comes into office that relationship will only strengthen,”
comments Mr. Cattell on the prospects of the UK-US relationship.

He also adds that Conservatives view Russia as an important partner for Great Britain.

In regards to speculation that Liberal Democrats are becoming a new decisive political player in the country’s political arena, another analyst, Max Wind-Cowie from Demos think tank, says it is still too early for such claims.

“For the first time in this country, during this election, we had a series of televised leadership debates. We had never had this before and they had a profound impact,” he said. “To be honest, Nick Clegg and his party were not seen as being major players alongside Labor and Conservatives before these TV debates. He gave a very successful performance in the first one, especially, and that really boosted their poll ratings.”

“But actually, if you look at the polls today and over the last couple of days the Lib Dems are receding back to a position we would have expected them to be during a general election, certainly they have been in over the last three or so general elections,” Wind-Cowie added. “So, I am not sure that Lib Dem bubble, if you like, is something that is going to continue and I am not sure if they are genuinely now at a moment where they can challenge the dominance of these two major parties.”

According to a research fellow at the Centre for European Reform, Clara O'Donnell, only major election reform can bring a change to the traditional balance of power in the UK.

“What might just happen is that they would change the way constituencies are designed so you do not have such a large advantage for Labor,” she said. “Currently, for historical reasons, the way the country is divided, for similar amount of votes overall nationally Labor will get a much higher number of seats in parliament than will the Conservatives, and even more than Liberal Democrats.”

“So what the Liberal Democrats have been asking for is to reform the system so there is more proportionality amongst the amount of votes you get as a whole in the country and the amount of seats you would have in a parliament,” O'Donnell added.

British political analyst Alex Stevenson says that although the present situation of a “hung parliament” is unprecedented, many political experts have anticipated it and society is already prepared. The negotiations will be hard, but the country will end up with a coalition government of Labour Party and Liberal Democrats before long.