Tuesday, May 11, 2010


Extraordinary Volte Face by Clegg Transforms Possibilities

Well just when so many people- me very much included- assumed a Lib Dem-Tory agreement was smoothly progressing towards a conclusion, everything was turned on its head. The reasons were twofold as I see it. Firstly Lib Dem MPs reasserted in their meeting with Clegg, that they represent a left of centre party which would compromise its future appeal to its voters if it facilitated a Conservative accession to power. The rank and file moreover require nothing less than thorough-going electoral reform. Secondly it seems Mandelson and Campbell were able to prevail upon Brown to stand down- albeit after a further period in power- in order to make a higher bid for Lib Dem support.

So we are now right in the middle of a bidding war. Poor William Hague, no doubt dismayed and let down, was forced to withold what he was probably thinking about Clegg in case their enhanced wooing of him eventually wins his hand. From concluding the 'rainbow coalition' was an unlikely and possibly undemocratic concept, we have all beeen forced to exhume it, dust it down and endeavour to find some credibility in it. To be honest, whilst I am intensely desirous of voting reform, I am still doubtful about: the stability of such a grouping; the efficacy of the Alternative Vote sytem being touted- it is much less proportional than the Jenkins favoured AV Plus; and the wisdom of allowing a losing PM to continue if offfice after being rejected by voters.

The voters themselves might have a dusty response waiting a few months down the line if this goes ahead. The risks for Labour have just ratcheted up more than a few notches. I still feel Labour would be better off allowing the Tories to make their play at solving the debt crisis and regroup in opposition under a new leader. I was interested to hear that gritty old pragmatist, John Reid, suggesting something similar on BBC News. Two sources from which we have not yet heard a great deal over the past 36 hours or more: David Cameron himself, and those allegedly volatile markets. Maybe we'll hear from both today...?

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