Support 110 years of independent journalism.

  1. Politics
6 December 2019

What we want: A hung parliament

Neither Boris Johnson nor Jeremy Corbyn deserves to win the general election.

By Helen Lewis

I want a hung parliament, which is the closest thing the British electoral system has to “none of the above”. No one deserves to win this election. Boris Johnson’s promises are not worth the buses they’re written on: as just one example, he swore to leave the European Union on 31 October during the Conservative leadership contest, then reneged on his word once he was safely installed in Downing Street.

Which Boris Johnson would we get after 12 December, anyway: the socially liberal London mayor, or the Brexiteer of 2016 who compared the EU to Hitler? The friend of the dolphins, steered by his conservationist girlfriend, or the hang ’em and flog ’em avatar of Lynton Crosby? Possibly even he doesn’t know what kind of prime minister he wants to be.

Labour, meanwhile, has comprehensively failed to root out the anti-Semitic cranks it has attracted since Jeremy Corbyn became leader. The shadow cabinet is under-powered. Its foreign policy is commendably sceptical of Donald Trump, but gives an easy ride to any leader who can be painted as anti-imperialist. Its policy on single-sex spaces such as women’s prisons and domestic violence refuges is confused and contradictory, preferring virtuous sound-bites to any real consideration of the trade-offs involved in policymaking.

I don’t know if Labour has the ability to deliver its incredibly ambitious manifesto; I suspect the Conservatives do have the ability to deliver theirs, and pursue a Brexit that all the evidence suggests will make Britain poorer. Personally, I’m also depressed that both parties have indulged in conspiracies about the “mainstream media”, a hopelessly general term designed not to offer a proper critique but to stoke a general feeling of mistrust.

A hung parliament wouldn’t solve anything, you say? I’m not sure a Johnson or Corbyn premiership would, either.

Select and enter your email address Your weekly guide to the best writing on ideas, politics, books and culture every Saturday. The best way to sign up for The Saturday Read is via The New Statesman's quick and essential guide to the news and politics of the day. The best way to sign up for Morning Call is via
  • Administration / Office
  • Arts and Culture
  • Board Member
  • Business / Corporate Services
  • Client / Customer Services
  • Communications
  • Construction, Works, Engineering
  • Education, Curriculum and Teaching
  • Environment, Conservation and NRM
  • Facility / Grounds Management and Maintenance
  • Finance Management
  • Health - Medical and Nursing Management
  • HR, Training and Organisational Development
  • Information and Communications Technology
  • Information Services, Statistics, Records, Archives
  • Infrastructure Management - Transport, Utilities
  • Legal Officers and Practitioners
  • Librarians and Library Management
  • Management
  • Marketing
  • OH&S, Risk Management
  • Operations Management
  • Planning, Policy, Strategy
  • Printing, Design, Publishing, Web
  • Projects, Programs and Advisors
  • Property, Assets and Fleet Management
  • Public Relations and Media
  • Purchasing and Procurement
  • Quality Management
  • Science and Technical Research and Development
  • Security and Law Enforcement
  • Service Delivery
  • Sport and Recreation
  • Travel, Accommodation, Tourism
  • Wellbeing, Community / Social Services
Visit our privacy Policy for more information about our services, how Progressive Media Investments may use, process and share your personal data, including information on your rights in respect of your personal data and how you can unsubscribe from future marketing communications.

Helen Lewis is a staff writer at the Atlantic

This piece is part of our “What we want” series. Read the rest of the articles here

Content from our partners
What you need to know about private markets
Work isn't working: how to boost the nation's health and happiness
The dementia crisis: a call for action