Tuesday, 11 May 2010

Lib Dems playing hard to get

At the time of writing we don't have a government in the UK. The Lib Dems are considering the differing attractions of cosying up to the Conservatives (offering a referendum on the AV+ voting system) or Labour (offering a true PR voting system, maybe without even a referendum - they're being a bit cagey on that, and Gordon Brown's head on a platter.)

But the Lib Dems have a problem. With the Conservatives they could form a government with a clear majority. Add their MPs together and you get 364 (assuming the yet to vote 650th constituency as Tory) which is a majority of 39 seats. That's a slam dunk.

But with Labour the Lib Dems only amount to 315, more than the Conservatives but not a majority. They would then need to rope in at least 10 more to make up the numbers.

So the answer is obvious: coalition with the Tories!

But, there's a major problem here. The Lib Dems are basically an anti-Tory party. In most of their 57 constituencies they have a majority of two thousand votes or so over the Conservatives, achieved by persuading every Tory-hater in the area to vote tactically for the Lib Dems as the only way to keep the Conservatives out. (In most Lib Dem constituencies Labour are nowhere!)

So an alliance with the Conservatives would be like snuggling up to the devil for the grassroots supporters. It's really quite unthinkable.

So the options are: coalition with Conservatives and the Lib Dem party revolts; coalition with Labour and the party is happy but the majority so fragile that nothing can be achieved.

No wonder Cleggsy can't make up his mind. He wanted this hung parliament so he could be the main man, king-maker extraordinaire, the guy who calls the shots. Presumably he never imagined he wouldn't be able to deliver a working majority to both sides. He's been hoist by his own petard! And with every passing hour it's becoming more and more apparent to the British public that a PR system with horse-trading after every election would be very bad idea.

PR leads inevitably to corruption. At the moment the parties are behind closed doors arguing about which policies will be on the table; before long they will be arguing about which politicians are sitting around the table, the cabinet table to be precise, then the closed-door discussions will turn to who gets which country house and which grace-and-favour apartment. Disappointed wanna-be ministers obliged to settle for a lesser position will be sweetened with taxpayers' money in one form or another.

Given the election results there is now actually no good outcome possible. It's going to be a fudge whichever way the Lib Dems swing. And they had better swing pretty fast - they are losing credibility by the hour.

And if no government is formed, sooner or later the financial markets will lose their nerve. The markets don't care whose hand is on the tiller, but they won't accept no-one's hand on the tiller.

C'mon Cleggy, decide already!

No comments: