John Lanchester · How Sinn Fein May Help the Tories
Yesterday I mentioned some of the various bizarre, horse-tradey outcomes which might arise from a super-close electoral result. Here’s one of my favourites: that the Tories win either 323 or 324 seats. This result would leave them one or two short, because there are 650 seats so the winning line for a majority is 325. Except that because the five current (and presumably future) Sinn Féin MPs don’t take up their seats in Westminster, the winning line for a majority in the Commons is in fact 323 seats. 1991, IRA lands a mortar in the garden of Downing Street during Cabinet meeting; 2010, political wing of IRA ensures that the Tories have a functioning Parliamentary majority. That strange ghostly noise is Michael Collins and Éamon de Valera either laughing or turning in their graves, it’s hard to tell.
In other news, both the Guardian and the Observer have come out with editorials endorsing the Lib Dems. The Sunday Times has an editorial endorsing the Tories, and in the process pays a tribute to Labour’s ‘achievements’:
It stood shoulder to shoulder with America when the world was threatened by terrorism; it gave the Bank of England independence; it did not cave in to the unions and reverse Margaret Thatcher’s reforms; it recognised the importance of entrepreneurial culture and handled the banking crisis well.
That list, I suspect, will remind quite a few people why they can’t face voting for Labour again.
The one I’m most interested in is the FT. The paper has done more than any other to expose the gap between the parties’s announced fiscal plans and what they are going to have to do in office. It puts the gap, for all three parties, at around £30 billion. That amount is a black hole, one which is going to suck in all surrounding political life for the entire course of the Parliament. So if and when the FT comes out with an endorsement, it will be picking which particular flavour of black hole it prefers. Or maybe black holes don’t have flavours?