Remember the “hanging chads” of Florida, and the ‘judicial usurpation’ that followed? We don’t do things like that. Actually, we do. “Vote Early, Vote Often,” was the joke about Northern Ireland. There have been cases of Tories ‘over enthusiastically’ signing up blocks of postal votes for care homes, and Labour relying on ethnic ‘clan’ voting. On the whole, once exposed, these naughty practices get squashed. Rigging boundaries, or, indeed, the whole electoral system, is quite respectable, if it has Parliamentary authority. So what about a coup? You know, like they have in banana republics. We definitely don’t go in for them. Except that Owen Jones is warning that a coup is being orchestrated right now. What he calls, in an echo of the Chris Mullin novel, ‘a very British coup.’ A Home Counties ‘hanging chad’, without any of the unpleasantness. And he’s right. I’d thought of it in terms of “owning the narrative”, but let’s call a spade a bloody shovel, why don’t we? The right wing-press and the Tory Party are actively seeking to delegitimise any government which commands Parliamentary support, but without the involvement of the largest party. It’s constitutional nonsense, of course. We don’t elect a Prime Minister, we don’t elect a government, we elect a local Member of Parliament. When the MPs come together, they decide who sits on the government or opposition benches. It’s a matter of parliamentary arithmetic. Except that in practice it is not quite like that. As we do not have a written constitution, and as we operate on the basis of precedents, it is quite possible to make it all up on the spot, and to present that as legitimate, however novel it may be. In this make-it-up-as-you-go-along constitution, political parties have evolved, the institution of the PM and of Cabinet government have emerged, the powers and composition of the Second Chamber have shifted. It’s a flexible system, but thereby open to those who would try it on, to do so. This is what is happening now. Newspapers, and the rest of the elite, are conspiring with the Conservatives to ensure that only they can hold power. Let’s look at that. 40 million plus voters in this island, plus a bit of the other one to the west, are being told that whatever we decide, we’ll get what we’re given if our choice doesn’t suit powerful vested interests. Is that really a coup? Let them eat bananas.