The hung parliament has highlighted a deficiency in our language. We don’t seem to have a word for what happens when you don’t win, don’t lose and don’t draw.
Here’s the situation: the Conservatives got more votes and more seats than any other single party, but not more than all the other parties put together, which is how you win an election. Labour and the Lib Dems each got fewer seats than the Tories. If they combine to form a Lib-Lab coalition they’ll have slightly more than the Tories – but still not more than all the other parties put together.
Nobody seems to have a satisfactory word for the situation the Conservatives are in, and it’s making the discussion of the situation a bit tricky.
The rightwing press, of course, haven’t let it stop them calling David Cameron the winner. Former Tory Prime Minister John Major was more measured on the Today programme this morning. When asked why the Conservatives should have to negotiate with a party that lost (the Lib Dems), Major said: “We didn’t win the election either.”
So they didn’t ‘win’, they didn’t ‘lose’ and they didn’t ‘draw’. What did they do?