Election campaign

The one thing we already know about the weekend after the election

The 70th anniversary of VE Day falls on 8 May: the day after the general election.

A series of ceremonies to mark this occasion are scheduled to take place in the UK and Europe. There will also be events across the weekend of Saturday 9 and Sunday 10 May.

Some of these will be commemorations requiring the attendance of the prime minister and possibly other party leaders.

As such there’s every chance that David Cameron, Ed Miliband, Nick Clegg and others will have to go straight from their respective election headquarters, or even the counts in their constituencies, to official events either here or on the continent.

The business of negotiating a coalition or forming a government will be put on hold (at least formally) while senior politicians join members of the royal family and other dignitaries to remember the end of the second world war in Europe.

It’s an intriguing scenario. All the main party leaders, tired and nervy after weeks of campaigning and the tension of election night itself, suddenly thrown together once more in an environment that demands they put aside allegiances and present a united front. What might they talk about on the journey to France and Germany? What private conversations might unfold away from public eyes?

More importantly, who will fulfil the role of the leader of the UK government? It’ll probably come down to timing. For the commemorations on 8 May, the day after the election, David Cameron would almost certainly still be de facto prime minister – especially if coalition negotiations have only just begun. It is Cameron, after all, who will remain prime minister until and only until he chooses to resign. If he thinks he can form the new government, he will almost certainly stay in Downing Street for as long as possible. Edward Heath waited four days before resigning after losing the February 1974 general election.

Only if Labour wins a clear majority is Cameron likely to concede defeat straightaway. If there is another hung parliament, he could conceivably still be prime minister right through the VE weekend, even if the Tories have failed to win the most seats. He’ll cling on for as long as he thinks he has the chance of cutting a deal.

For him and his counterparts in other parties, the immediate aftermath of 7 May looks set to pose a triple challenge: bartering over a new coalition, representing the country on the world stage, and simply trying to stay awake after 48 hours without sleep.

The weekend after the election is shaping up to be almost as fascinating as the election itself.


7 responses to ‘The one thing we already know about the weekend after the election

  1. Whereas, if Labour wins a clear majority, we might see Ed Miliband at Buckingham Palace early on the 8th, before heading off to commemorative events. There is also the 75th anniversary of Dunkirk at the end of May, and the 70th aniversary of VJ Day in August.

    Also the 800th anniversary of Magna Carta and the 200th anniverary of Waterloo about a month later, on 15 and 18 June, and then the 600th anniversary of Agincourt in October. Events for UKIP, perhaps, or Tory Eurosceptics?

    Meanwhile, we have the smouldering of territorial disputes on Russia’s borders, and Islamic jihadists in the Middle East and North Africa. Sobering stuff, lest we forget.

  2. Apropos – http://www.britishlegion.org.uk/remembrance/ve-day/about-ve-day and http://www.britishlegion.org.uk/remembrance/ve-day/ve-70-events

    The German unconditional surrender was signed on the afternoon of 7 May, coming into effect by 11.01am on 8 May.

    Looks like there will be wreath laying at the Cenotaph, a service at Westminster Abbey, and a parade in Whitehall. Perhaps, after the kissing of hands, they could all just pop out onto the balcony at Buckingham Palace, like on 8 May 1945.

    Realistically, assuming we get the expected hung Parliament, I expect the commemoration weekend will become an excuse to spin out the coalition negotiations into the following week.

  3. I agree David Cameron will hang on as long as he can if he thinks he can form either majority or minority govt. The above just delays formation of govt which may take till at least Thurs 14 May.

    What we need to know in due course is how many marginals count Friday morning instead of Thursday night.

  4. Oh, the Spectator were on this today: http://www.spectator.co.uk/features/9446712/ve-day-anniversary-why-politics-will-take-second-place-the-day-after-the-election/

    And the Daily Mail a couple of weeks ago: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2935773/How-contemptible-self-obsessed-politicians-won-t-honour-greatest-day-history-reason-make-blood-boil.html

    Assuming we stick with fixed term parliaments, there should be a general election on Thursday 7th May again in 2020: just before the 75th anniversary of VE Day!

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