Vote Lib Dem….Cameron for PM?

So many things wrong with Nick Clegg’s recent comments regarding coalitions that it is hard to know where to actually start. Clegg said that he would offer to his support to whichever party ‘had the strongest mandate’ from the British people. Most obviously, the current electoral system does not make that immediately clear and it is by no means true that the largest party will necessarily have the ‘strongest mandate’. Even if we take Clegg’s comments to mean that he would weigh the votes cast this is by no means an indication of a strong mandate.

If David Cameron’s Conservatives fail to win a Parliamentary majority then there is a strong case that the British people are not sure in significant numbers to hand them the reins of power and neither should we. For example, although Chole Smith formally won a by-election for the Conservatives the reduction of the Conservative vote hardly implied a ringing vote of confidence.

Secondly, such remarks now mean that our opportunity for horse trading has been radically diminished; there is simply no incentive now for us to be offered, say, a referendum on electoral reform since we have already told  both parties what they need is a strong mandate.

Electoral reform is the most likely casualty of Clegg’s comments because, quite simply, the Conservative Party is unlikely to swallow it and support for it within that party is restricted to the fringes. However, at least with the Labour Party, we can look to support from the Labour left for this historic opportunity to make a lasting difference in British politics.

Thirdly, our key target voters ie, those coming from Labour have essentially been told that a vote for the Liberal Democrats is most likely a vote for a Conservative government. Something that is likely to encourage them not to shift their vote as this government threatens to be one of the most right-wing in history. If we end up in coalition with the Conservatives then we are most likely to find ourself in the role of the ‘acceptable face’ of swinging cutbacks; something that you can see in microcosm in council coalitions with the Conservatives.

It seems odd and inherently wrong that we would demand nothing as a price of a coalition and as it is unlikely that the Conservatives will deliver any of our substantial manifesto commitments the wisdom of offering them that encouragement seems at best tactically unwise. In the long-run  it could well split the Party…..if the party does split then Clegg only has himself to blame.

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About darrellgoodliffe

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2 responses to “Vote Lib Dem….Cameron for PM?”

  1. Joe Otten says :

    It’s important not to mix up two very different scenarios. One is a coalition, which would demand hard bargaining and fair votes. I don’t think Clegg is talking about that, not least because I don’t think either party would offer it.

    The other is Confidence and Supply. That is we would have the option of abstaining on confidence and supply bills, rather than forcing another election immediately. This entails no commitment to the government’s programme, so there is not much in the way of bargaining to be done. And the government would have to win the argument in the house issue by issue to do anything, which may just revitalise politics somewhat.

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  2. darrellgoodliffe says :

    Joe,

    But at the end of the day we would have to support measures like the Budget and the government on any confidence motion. I don’t think there really is an option to pick and choose too much; and also we have to ask what we are gaining through this support.

    If there are no tangible benefits for the electorate who votes for us what is the point and also would it not be folly to miss a historic opportunity to change the voting system?

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