The country’s government is still undecided following last week’s General Election as the main political parties have so far failed to come to an agreement to form a coalition government. In the weeks running up to the election we heard each party make promises regarding what they would deliver if they won but the position now leaves such matters rather unclear.
Of course, this has meant that much of the talks with the Liberal Democrats have centred around electoral reform which was an important factor in their manifesto. As it stands at present, a party needs 326 seats in the Houses of Parliament to secure the majority necessary to pass laws without relying on MPs from other political parties. No single party has achieved 326 seats which has resulted in this period of frantic negotiation as Labour and the Conservatives both attempt to woo the Liberal Democrats as they reiterate the need for a full review of the voting practices in this country.
Nick Clegg originally seemed to be pledging his allegiance to the Conservatives when he spoke on Friday, stating that David Cameron had the moral right to seek to govern the country due to having gained the most seats in the election. However, as the weekend passed and a new week dawned it emerged that talks were progressing between Labour and the Lib Dems with Gordon Brown announcing that he will stand down as leader of the Labour Party.
Of course, the reality of the hung parliament is that the promises made by each of the political party currently hang in the balance. In the weeks and day preceding the election, contractors appeared to be supporting the Conservatives on the whole, primarily due to their pledge to overhaul tax systems. Many contractors were hopeful that this would result in the abolition of IR35. Now, however, it is unclear which manifesto promises will actually come to fruition. Will Labour be leading the country or will it be the Conservatives and which of their policies will the Liberal Democrats insist are taken forward in any coalition government?
The Forum of Private Businesses has stated that this hung parliament is creating confusion and uncertainty. Chief executive Phil Orford said: “I expect many smaller businesses will be disappointed that the election has resulted in a hung Parliament. However, the outcome can’t be changed so it is vital that the newly-elected MPs put aside party politics and work together to come up with a credible system of governance.”
He continued: “With the economy still in a very precarious state and a mountain of public debt to be tackled, businesses owners need our elected representatives to move away from inter-party point-scoring and show political responsibility. Small businesses are the lifeblood of UK plc. I would urge all the political parties to do everything they can to come to a swift, workable consensus in order to secure the prosperity of Britain’s SMEs and the wider economy.”
The Forum has set out the key principles which they believe should be of prime importance to the future government – however it is constructed. These are free enterprise, fiscal responsibility (including smarter public spending cuts and taxation), stability (from continuing government support) and fresh opportunities in the form of new technologies and markets.
Looking at the manifestos of the three main parties, the only thing that seems certain is that public spending will be cut and wages in the public sector will be capped.