Residents are hopeful that the coalition could work

(an article I wrote for the Western Gazette – published Thursday 20 May 2010: Western Gazette Election election vox pops)

AS the country comes to terms with its first hung parliament in more than 35 years, residents in Dorset and Somerset give their verdict on a historic fortnight of politics.

A thrilling election campaign dominated by the televised leaders debates ended on May 5, with what seemed a disappointing result for all parties.

The Conservatives failed to secure an overall majority and
despite the hype of Cleggmania, the Liberal Democrats dropped five seats.

So with no single political party gaining overall majority,
thoughts turned to a coalition government.

Gordon Brown’s failed attempt to form an alliance with the Liberal Democrats led to his resignation as Prime Minister, opening the front door of number 10 for Conservative leader David Cameron to step in.

Clegg has since been appointed Deputy Prime Minister and Yeovil MP David Laws has also secured one of the four other Liberal Democrat cabinet seats.

Laws, in his second term as Liberal Democrat MP for Yeovil,
was appointed Secretary to the Treasury, while his neighbour
West Dorset MP Oliver Letwin has taken on the role of Minister of State.

Despite signs of discontent among the party faithful, both leaders Cameron and Clegg are keen to play down any disparity
in policies.

But shoppers in Yeovil were not so convinced their “marriage
of convenience” would work.

Yeovil stall holder Chris Hunt, 50, lives in Shepton Mallet.
He said: “They’ll end up squabbling and falling out.
That’s what always happens. It takes ages to get anything

The Lib Dems had to join one party, Clegg had the balance
of power and I’m not bothered that he joined the Tories.
There are more important world issues to consider.”

Student Nathaniel Everett, 17, of Sturminster Newton is
worried Education Maintenance Allowance and benefits could be culled in the predicted cuts.

He said: “I don’t like it at all. I’d like the Lib Dems to be inbut not the Tories. I don’t know much about it but I’m worried about my EMA being cut.”

Others were more positive. Pensioner Ian Lewis, 69, of
Houndstone Park, Yeovil said: “I think it’s the best thing that
could have happened. For Lib Dems to go in with Labour
would have been a bad move – a coalition of odds and sods.

“I’m a Liberal voter but think this could work. I find it
refreshing. It will work if we think positively. Everyone’s got
to pull together.”

Pat Pointer, 55, lives in Wincanton and is a carer. She said:
“It’s about keeping your fingers crossed. Gordon Brown has made such a mess of the economy. He got us into a hole and hopefully they’ll dig us out of it. They’ll work well for a while. It might last five years and then we’ll have another general election.

Danielle Harris, 18, lives in Gillingham and is a student.
She said: “It’s a good thing. They both have different opinions so there will be a balance. They might disagree but they’ll have to work it out.

“I voted Conservative. I basically voted for a party I thought would get in. I was going to vote Monster Raving Loony but then decided not to.”

Barry Dugmore, 68, lives in Castle Cary and is a retired management consultant. He said: “I don’t see anything wrong with it if it provides a stable government but they’ve
got to get the deficit down.

Labour have basically bankrupted this country. I have no
problems with two parties joining together. We just need a
good dose of common sense. They need to make radical
changes, not just based on taxation”.

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