Running From Hard Choices
Fear of Tory spending cuts helped Labour hang around. Max Hastings on the weaknesses of the new government to come.
• More Daily Beast writers weigh in on the U.K. electionDavid Cameron seems overwhelmingly likely to become prime minister, but at the head of a weak, indeed precarious, government which may struggle to claim a mandate to do the hard things needed to restore Britain's private finances to solvency. The British electorate, as some of us feared, has flinched from making tough choices. It is striking that in many areas where a majority of workers are on the public payroll, rather than working for private companies, voters have stuck with Labour because they fear tough Tory action to cut public spending. This seems notably true in Scotland, Gordon Brown's homeland, which hates the Tories. The most likely outcome today is that Cameron will run a minority government for some months, then call another election in hopes of getting a bigger majority. But the bad news for Britain is that the markets wanted a clear outcome and a strong new government, and we don't have it. A small possibility remains that Labour will form a government in coalition with the Liberal Democrats, maybe under a different leader from Gordon Brown.
Max Hastings is the author of more than twenty books, most recently Winston's War. He has served as a foreign correspondent and as the editor of Britain’s Evening Standard and Daily Telegraph and has received numerous British Press awards, including Journalist of the Year in 1982 and Editor of the Year in 1988.