The men and women of Yorkshire in the north of England are sturdy folk—stout, plain-speaking and unbending, but also charming.

Cast your mind back to the austere play of the former Yorkshire and England opening batsman Geoff Boycott, as also his commentating career—colourful by contrast.

In north Yorkshire, where I spent my Christmas week, the character trait is reflected in the terrain. This is land made to walk on—brooding moors followed by miles upon miles of carefully conserved forests, dales, farms, meadows and footpaths generously offered to the public by their owners, spectacular glens and valleys.

“There are days when I climb up to the top of a hill after a long walk, when I think, ‘well this is it, isn’t it’. This is what makes it worth it," Michael, a retired civil servant, told me one evening.

There’s centuries of history to back them up—the Yorkshire flag, white rose on blue, flies from many homes. “We are farmers mostly, I am a Conservative," I was informed by one proud Yorkshireman in a pub (although his pint, I noticed, did not come from a local brewery). “I support David Cameron, but this gay marriage business is a bit much."

This is election year in Britain, and not everyone is convinced about the prevailing Trans-Atlantic ideological current of free markets riding on socially liberal policies. Prime Minister Cameron, who has managed to complete five years in a difficult coalition with the Liberal Democrats, is facing a rebellion from the right flank of the Conservatives over Europe and immigration.

Unlike in government, where the Libdems claim to have moderated the Conservatives, out on the street there is no compulsion to follow the norm. Expectedly, the right-wing United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP)—“independence" from Europe, that is—has successfully articulated these two issues, plucking them out of what is a traditional Conservative right agenda.

Led by former commodities broker Nigel Farage, UKIP seems to have tapped into—and stoked—public fear of being subsumed by Europe and beaten to a job by cheap European workers. As a result, it now has three seats in the European Parliament in Strasbourg and 18 local council seats in Yorkshire and the neighbouring county of Lincolnshire. It came in at second place in dozens of other wards in local council elections, snapping at the heels of the opposition Labour party in places where most voters are white working class, who are evidently upset about the recent immigration from eastern Europe.

Meanwhile, Labour, after sweeping three successive general elections under Tony Blair, is in the political wilderness, struggling to articulate a stronger intellectual argument for the Left, where it has positioned itself after Blair’s centrist years. All of this means the likely return of a coalition government in the UK, with the Libdems and smaller groups such as the Scottish and Northern Irish parties set to play an important role in government formation.

To secure a majority in the British parliament, a party or a group of parties needs 326 seats—323 if you count out the neutral Speaker and seats that are traditionally vacated by Northern Ireland’s Sinn Fein party (in protest at London’s rule—it is a very interesting place, the House of Commons).

According to Peter Mandelson, the man who helped craft the Labour wins along with Blair and Gordon Brown, “it looks likely that any government coming out of the May 2015 election would be comprised of a fragile and modest majority". Many other British commentators, too, believe that the next government in London with its thin parliamentary majority will struggle to pass legislation but will be forced to carry on nevertheless—because the Fixed-Terms Parliaments Act introduced by Cameron makes it extremely difficult for governments to call mid-term elections, and because Labour probably does not want to be in government.

Some of this will sound familiar to readers who follow the course of Indian politics and parliamentary democracy, inherited from the British. Manmohan Singh’s previous Congress-led government, reeling under a series of corruption charges, was unable to function because of protests by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in what was a prelude to the BJP’s sweeping victory in last year’s general election.

Now the BJP is in majority, it still cannot push through its legislative agenda in Parliament because it is in a minority in the upper House, which can delay bills passed by the lower House. As a result, the government has taken to enforcing its legislative agenda through ordinances rather than parliamentary approval. In less than a year, the government has already introduced seven ordinances, with an eighth approved by the cabinet, making it seem remarkably like government by fiat rather than popular consent.

Alongside, much like Cameron, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has had to contend with loony right fringe within his own party. Unlike Cameron, however, Modi enjoys popular support, and a strong majority for his party in Parliament. That means he is in a position—in a way that the diffident politician Manmohan Singh never was—to rein in his party’s backbenchers who have been trying to muscle in with a divisive pro-Hindu, anti-Muslim, anti-Christian agenda.

Neither Cameron nor Modi can afford to allow their governments to be pushed out of mainstream ideology. Like it or not, inclusiveness is a 21st century pre-condition for parliamentary democracies—it is what carries the will of the people.

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