The 12 hours that followed the close of the polls on General Election day reminded me of the most memorable episode of the hit HBO fantasy epic Game of Thrones, called ‘Red Wedding’, when many of the shows main characters were brutally killed off overnight. As night turned to day on 8th May, the political careers of many of the main characters of British politics over the past five years were either killed off or severely wounded. Ed Miliband and Nick Clegg resigned, while Ed Balls, Douglas Alexander, Vince Cable, Danny Alexander, Ed Davey and David Laws, among others, all lost their seats. It even seemed that Nigel Farage would step out of front line politics for a while, although it turned out that his supposed resignation was a fantasy story itself. 8th May was a bloody massacre that left one clear winner – David Cameron and the Conservative Party.
Game of Throne’s ‘Red Wedding’ was a surprise plot to end a war between several pretenders to the throne of the fantasy world of Westeros, orchestrated by the conniving Lannister family whose motto is “a Lannister always pays their debts”. In the run up to the election TV debates Game of Thrones fans compared the David Cameron and Tories to the fiscally responsible Lannister family who would go on to, against all the odds, hold off rivals to the thrones through ruthless efficiency. Like Game of Thrones, this General Election was a war between several rivals on multiple fronts and the incumbent ruler under heavy attack on every side, suffering some bruising defeats, yet still managing to emerge victorious. And, a bit like the fantasy hit, a seemingly unstoppable force wiped out all before it beyond the wall (Hadrian’s wall) – yes, the Scottish National Party – with only the incumbent power in Number 10 seemingly unaffected by their sudden rise.
After this bloody victory, David Cameron now needs to get onto the more delicate job of governing. In the fictional world of Game of Thrones, the Lannister family had to build ties with rival families of “Lords” that rule the land. Cameron too will need to build ties with Lords as, despite his Party’s narrow majority in the House of Commons, in the House of Lords the Conservatives are heavily outnumbered by their rivals. There are 779 sitting peers at present and the Tories have only 224 of them, while Labour has 213, and – remarkably considering they only have 8 MPs – the Liberal Democrats have 101. The remainder is made up of a handful of Peers from other parties; UKIP have only 3; there are 26 Bishops; and 179 crossbenchers in the chamber providing a body of neutral experts to scrutinise policy.
It would not be a surprise if the Liberal Democrats, the biggest victims of this May’s political massacre at the hands of the Tories, urge their peers to unite with Labour to hold up the Conservative’s legislative agenda. Together Labour and the Liberal Democrats could build a 300 plus vote block in the Lords that could easily defeat the Conservative’s 224 Peers. The Parliament Act does give the Commons power to override the Lords if the upper House continuously rejects legislation, but this is usually only considered a final option. And even if Peers do observe the Salisbury Convention, which since 1945 has permitted a Government to pass laws it listed in its election manifesto, they can still uphold the nuances of Bills by writemyessayservice.co.uk pushing amendments to them, voting down clauses and severely slowing down the passage of legislation. Only finance related “Money Bills” may legitimately circumvent the Lords.
The Conservatives will need to reach out to groupings of the 179 influential crossbench Peers in order to try and get their legislative agenda through the second chamber speedily and without considerable amendment. What that means is that strong relationships with Peers, especially crossbenchers, will be absolutely crucial for groups engaging with policy and legislation over the next five years.
The Game of Prime Ministers may be over for another five years but, just as everybody enjoys the gory set piece battle scenes in Game of Thrones, it is the politics and the intrigue that keep fans hooked…