Wednesday, January 09, 2013

 

Clegg the King-Maker in 2015? I Don't Think So

After the terrible press the mid-term report received, it was refreshing to read the defence produced today by that doyen of commentators, Simon Jenkins.

Two leaders who have serious differences on many topics still stand shoulder to shoulder on essentials and seem likely to do so for a full five years. They have carved out areas of agreement and disagreement and, like political grownups, have seen that they publicly agree on what currently matters. This is mature politics.On any showing, this has been a rare period of political discipline. The cliche that turkeys do not vote for Christmas is easily deployed: an early election would certainly have hurt first the Lib Dems and now the Tories

Jenkins.praises Clegg's role as party lader, keeping his party in the coalition 'without serious unrest'. He also praises how well the two principals have got on with each other: 'Imagine how long a 'marriage' of Nick Clegg and Gordon Brown would have lasted.' He also praises his forebearance in accepting a range of measures which he must have found distasteful. He sees Clegg's refusal to grant boundary re-drawings- worth 25 seats to the Tories- as a major reason why a Labour return to government is now more likely. Cameron's unwitting help to UKIP also strengthens Lib Dem seats vulnerable to Tory take-over in 2015.

But Jenkins is surely wrong in concluding:

"That, in turn, increases the chance of a Labour-Lib Dem coalition, and thus Clegg's survival in office.

I cannot see any way in which Labour would make a coalition deal with Clegg. Labour supporters, not to mention MPs have been incensed by the sight of Clegg, wisely nodding in agreement as Cameron has attacked Labour's record, leadership and much else. A Lab-Lib-Dem coalition might well emerge out of the 2015 election but it will need a Vince Cable, or an exonerated Chris Huhne to be in charge on such an occasion. 
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