U.K. Labour Party leader Ed Miliband said his strategy for forming a government if he falls short of a majority will be to dare other parties to vote him down.
Polls suggest neither Labour nor Prime Minister David Cameron’s Conservatives will come close to winning a majority in Thursday’s general election. Instead, victory will ultimately go to the leader who secures Parliament’s backing for his program, known as the Queen’s Speech.
Because Cameron, as the incumbent, gets the first opportunity, Miliband will only get a chance if Cameron has tried and failed, or simply stood aside. In either case, he will be able to tell other parties that unless they back him, they face another election for which they’re unprepared and underfunded.
“I want to put forward a Labour Queen’s Speech, we’re going to put forward a Labour budget and it will be for the House of Commons to decide how it votes,” Miliband told BBC Radio 4’s “Today” program Monday.
While Miliband has said he won’t do a deal with the separatist Scottish National Party, which is expected to win as many as 50 of Scotland’s 59 seats, this doesn’t mean the nationalists can’t support him, as he pointed out.
“What the Scottish National Party or any other MP elected to the House of Commons does is absolutely a matter for them,” he said.
As the SNP is committed to backing Labour, he can count on the party’s support in crucial votes without negotiating with it or even talking to it.
A minority government would have to win support for measures on a case-by-case basis. This might be easier for Labour than it sounds. The SNP and Liberal Democrats would support a lot of Labour’s program on areas including taxation and welfare spending without much amendment. And the contentious issue that the SNP opposes, the renewal of Britain’s Trident nuclear weapons system, is supported by the Conservatives.
Such a government might be likely to lose many more votes than is usual in the British system, but thanks to the Fixed-Term Parliaments Act, brought in in 2011, doing so wouldn’t bring the government down -- that could only happen with the loss of a confidence vote.