Thursday, December 30, 2010
By Election and AV Challenges Pose Threats to Coalition in 2011
Having said that, I think the Coalition faces some genuine tests in the near future and not from a position of special strength either, as Seamus Milne points out:
Support for the coalition has now collapsed from 59% to 43%, backing for the Lib Dems from 23% at the general election to 8% in some polls, and Nick Clegg has become one of the most hated men in Britain as his party prepares to pay a savage political price in next May's elections – and quite possibly in his lifeline electoral reform referendum as well.
Those May elections will loom menacingly over everything the Lib Dems do over the next few months but before that we have the Oldham East by-election on 13th January where it seems pretty clear the Tories are soft-pedaling their campaign so that the Lib Dems can have a better chance to surmount the 103 vote majority over Labour's recalcitrant Phil Woolas lst May. However, the national mood, coloured to a degree by the student demonstrations, might work, as it so often does in such contests, to deliver a huge and painful black eye to Clegg and his pals.
As for the May referendum, things do not look too good either. According to Nicholas Watt, the arithmetic looks dire for the pro AV cause, with 114 Labour MPs likely to vote against the proposal. This grieves me as, along with Ed Miliband, Alan Johnson, Mandelson, Tony Benn and the wonderful Chris Mullin, I'm in favour of it. I lament the fact that the likes of Blunkett, Prescott, John Reid, Charlie Falconer and Margaret Becket are helping to lead Labour's 'No' campaign. However, a disenchanted electorate might well be inclined to deliver another bloody nose to the hated Clegg. If they do I reckon the odds will be against the Coalition making it to the 2015 finishing line intact.
Some how I now look around to find a party which is willing to stand up for me, sadly I cannot now find anyone who is willing to say we must help the vulnerable.
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