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The opinions expressed on this page are mine alone. Any similarities to the views of my employer are completely coincidental.

Monday, 10 May 2010

Election Special 2

I'm still finding it difficult to understand the political logic of Clegg's negotiations with Cameron. OK he has to be seen to go through the motions but we are past the stage where he has satisfied the proprieties. The main thing that Clegg's followers want is electoral reform -  the one thing he is not going to get from Cameron. That being so an arrangement - coalition or otherwise - with the Conservatives spells doom for the LibDems. If he settles for less - say an agreement to set up a body of worthies to look into it at some unspecified time in the future - he gets nothing apart from the opprobrium of being associated with an administration that once the cuts bite will be deeply unpopular. He will also be at the mercy of the Conservatives calling a snap election at a moment that is relatively favourable for their chances. My guess is that the LibDems would do badly in such an election. If he doesn't conclude a deal with either Cameron or Brown and allows the former to form a minority government then we will have an election very soon in which the LibDems will probably be severely squeezed. If people want a clear result they are not going to vote for a third party that can't, under the 1st past the post system, turn its apparent media popularity into seats. The least worst alternative for Clegg is a coalition with Labour. Such a government will be weak and it might not survive long enough to actually implement electoral reform. On the other hand the LiBDems will have a big incentive to make it work and it is the only chance they have to achieve their aim. My guess is that the Scots and Welsh nationalists can be offered some sweetners to play ball. It will all look pretty shabby, but hey it's politics, what do you expect?
An afterthought: if, as we are told, the parties should lay aside petty squabbles in the interest of dealing with economic doomsday, isn't it of some relevance that despite his overall unpopularity the public in the pre-election polls consistently rated Brown as the man they most trusted to deal with the economy?

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