Monday, 10 May 2010

Faustian Deal or No Deal...

With rumour and counter rumour, the General Election malaise continues to remain unresolved. The central issues surrounds the options available to Nick Clegg and the Liberal Democrats; it would not be overstating the issue by pronouncing that Mr Clegg and his advisers have a chance to revolutionize British politics. The Lib Dems are a party standing on the edge of the precipice, one ill advised step the party could become an irrelevant side show for another 90 years, alternatively if they carefully plot their way through this political minefield the Liberal Democrats could conceivably become a genuine third party.

The warnings are clear and well signposted - join a Conservative coalition and risk alienating most of the core support, join a Labour coalition and be perceived to have no mandate from the electorate whilst becoming the crutch for an ailing Prime Minster (damnation by association, if you will). Yet the easiest road to follow could be the hardest for the general public to forgive, that is do nothing - allow the Conservative Party to form a minority administration and pass a Queen's Speech, but only provide support on an ad-hoc basis. If the economy begins to struggle the Conservative Party and Tory supporting press will have the perfect whipping boy to blame for the indecision in the market - that is the Lib Dems refused to help the nation during difficult times because of petty partisan politics. But if there is a significant improvement in the economy David Cameron can take all the credit for leading Good Ship Britannia through the worst of economic storms despite the hindrance of the "unpatriotic" Mr Clegg.

However, the "do nothing" option is quite tempting for many Liberal Democrats, it would not alienate the core support, allowing the party leadership to only pass legislation that was politically palatable, it would also allow the Labour Party to regain some of their former strength with a brief period of opposition (i.e. sack Gordon Brown) and with the prospect of an autumn general election due to a weak government the Lib Dems could form a coalition with their more natural bedfellows the Labour Party. This is a long shot, but a risk/reward calculation could provide the Liberal Democrats with an opportunity that seems to arise once every hundred years - the opportunity to redefine the political caste.

1 comment:

  1. So, Gordon Brown falls upon his sword (he is and always has been an honourable and party-loyal man despite what the right wing media say)...and with his demise the Lib Dems (together with every electoral reform-minded Labour member - and they do exist!) have the opportunity to 'redefine the political caste'.
    Personally I am tired of the right-wing press bleating about the need for strong government and scare-mongering with stories of 'market collapse' (didn't see much of that collapse today despite the weekend warnings).
    Yes, the tories have a greater share of the vote than any other single party. But what we need to be reminded is that more people voted against them (or, in other words, voted for another party) than voted for them. Are we to accept (yet again) that it is acceptable to ignore what that other (approx) 66% of the electorate wanted - just because 'that's the way it's always been'?
    We will most certainly be at the polls again within 6 months if the tories are forced into coalition (or minority government). They will do their worst to ensure that any coalition fails - spinning such failure as demonstrative of the need for the kind of 'strong government' which they will argue can only be delivered by a knock-out definitive vote for them under FPTP.