Saturday, May 08, 2010


Odds on Lib Dem_Tory Agreement and that Clegg Will Let Voting Reform Slip

Polly Toynbee today suggests Clegg should hold his nerve, reject the silly blandishments of the Tories and hold out for a deal with Labour delivering PR. I sympathise wholly with this view but do not believe it'll happen because:

1. Exhuming Gordon's undistinguished government will seem totally contrary to the election result. Gordon has been rejected.It would help a great deal if he resigned but he is so power obsessed the idea would never even occur to him.

2. Doing a deal with Brown will contradict his avowed statement earlier in the campaign, thus reinforcing the view you can't trust politicians.

3. A 'Rainbow' coalition of Labour, LDs, Greens and Nats will just appear too unstable and opportunistic.

4. A referendum on voting in these conditions would quite likely become a referendum on the Lab-LD 'deal' and be voted down anyway.

5. The rightwing press would crucify such an agreement.

6. Such a deal would be unlikely to have the political strength to pass the necessary tough measures to reduce ther deficit and reassure the bond markets.

So, while I'd love to see PR, I fear this cannot be the moment. It's coming, but not yet- emerging from the depths of this current crisis. Clegg will ally or do a deal with Cameron but I'd advise him not to get too close. The second election- maybe in the autumn- might be tricky if unpopular measures have been forced through. Making Vince Cable Chancellor would fall right into this trap and Clegg will avoid it if he has any sense. First thing Labour should do is get rid of their political liability Gordon Brown as leader.

Great post Skipper, I absolutely agree. Speaking as somebody who has always defended FPTP up to now, I really think it is going to struggle to hang on to its legitimacy after this - but in the middle of the worst national crisis since 1931, we have more important things to worry about.

Moreover, I think it genuinely is important that time and care is taken over getting it right - which can't be done if it is seen as an up-or-down deal breaker. As we've waited 100 years for meaningful reform, surely we can wait another five?

PS Anecdotal I know, but a right-wing Tory friend of mine, who used to work for David Cameron and hates him, wants him to come out for PR - even said he would consider admiring him if he did! Could we be seeing a move on the part of the younger right wing?
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