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How might the 2010 General Election have looked had the UK been a Republic and not a Monarchy?

Well I’ve written two blog posts today why not make it a third before I go off to the Indian to grab a curry?

There are many people across all political parties who want to remove the Monarchy and become a Republic. If we were to do that then for arguments sake lets adopt the US system where we would have a President instead of a Prime Minister and people would vote directly for them as well as voting for a local MP. Let’s say we have an Electoral College system using counties and give more votes to the higher populated counties like in America. This is all just hypothetical but might be fun to look at.

This would mean in 2010 we would have three main runners and riders. The Labour Party would put forward Gordon Brown, the Tories would put forward David Cameron and the Lib Dems would put forward Nick Clegg. I suspect the other fringe parties would do rather better than they do under our current system but I can’t see any of them realistically winning so let’s ignore them just for sake of this post.

Gordon Brown would be the incumbent having taken over after President Blair stood down. Brown was only ever elected as Vice-President on the Tony Blair ticket so would have to battle that stigma once again. Brown was leader overseeing a real downturn in the economy which is never a good thing in any voting system. However in a Presidential race would he have had the charisma to engage with the electorate and excite them to the point of electing him as President?

Maybe-maybe not but like the Republican Party over in the States you could chalk up significant victories for Labour under this system in weighty northern counties. Labour would only have to take a few counties in other areas of the UK to win. This would not be easy.

Brown would have had to pick a charismatic running mate on the ticket and the obvious man would have been David Miliband. The problem with this is that would Brown have trusted Miliband and put him on the ticket or would he have gone with one of his inner-circle – Ed Balls perhaps? I suspect it would have been a Brown-Balls ticket. Both strong but also both at the centre of a deeply unpopular government.

Next up we look at David Cameron. He had Middle England sown up and to win would have had to make inroads into the north and steal a Lancashire or a Warwickshire to make it an easy ride to the finish. Unlike Brown, Cameron’s main problem was no-one believed him to be a man of the people and the working classes could not stand the man. He would have needed a running mate who would have connected with that population to grab one or two of the big northern counties.

Looking around this is a major problem for the Tories under this scenario. The best appointment on the ticket would have been Mayor of London Boris Johnson and he ticks none of the boxes but has public appeal. He would be the foil and the public opposite to Cameron’s straight-lacedness (is that a word? MS Word says no – damn).

The Cameron-Johnson ticket would clean up the Home Counties and takes most of the London area and South-East. Probably not reaching a bump until we get to the South West.

Then the last big name ticket would be the upstart Nick Clegg-Vince Cable ticket. They would be before this election the most popular amongst the floating voters. A clean-cut Westminster student coupled with an old school Liberal who had the public’s trust. It was the dream ticket but would it have been popular enough to ride on the tidal-wave of public support to a victory?

This is probably not happening but it would have been very interesting had they taken the Electoral College votes for counties such as Devon & Cornwall – both of whom would have been serious targets and legitimate possibilities for the duo. They were widely seen to have the most popular policies except on two major issues – the nuclear deterrent and immigration. The latter being a killer.

So the end result is no-one wins more than 50% of the Electoral College votes with the nationalist parties in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland doing enough to mean that a winner would have had less than 50%.

If it ended there David Cameron would have been elected president but may not have had a majority in the newly-refigured House of Commons or House of Lords. If however an AV system was in place then Gordon Brown most likely is declared the winner and becomes President thanks in main to the AV votes of nationalist parties and Lib Dems.

Neither Brown nor Cameron would likely have a majority in either house and pushing through legislation at a time of economic instability would have been extremely tricky – whoever had won.

Of course one of them could still have done a policy deal with the Lib Dems to allow legislation to slide through easier as it would be likely the Lib Dems would still have MPs at local level.

It would have been very interesting had we been a Republic in 2010. When electing a President often charisma trumps all and a campaign it squarely focused on personalities with policies often relegated to second place in the mud-slinging and in the media.

What would have happened had we been a Republic in 2010 using a system extremely similar to the US style electoral college? Who knows but it would have been a very different campaign but probably a very similar result with one or two counties being the swing giving either Brown or Cameron the keys to #10.

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