It is May 7th. The results for the UK General Election are in, and there is no party with an overall majority. What political pundits had been predicting for weeks has finally happened: a hung parliament.
Nick Clegg, jubilant at the Liberal Democrat victory, goes to Labour ready to strike a deal, but there is one problem – Labour aren’t interested in making one. With the economy in disarray, a strong Tory opposition and public resentment, they feel it’s in their interest to let the Tories make the cuts and take the heat for what is destined to be a short parliament. In three years, they hope, Labour will be revitalised and ready to make gains through the first-past-the-post system.
So with no deal in hand Clegg goes to Cameron, hoping to tempt him into a coalition. One problem – Cameron is just as reluctant to work with the Lib Dems. Electoral reform would destroy the conservative grasp on British politics, and with the rank and file of both parties detesting each other, a coalition is nigh impossible.
So there is no electoral reform and no deal. The Conservative party forms a minority government and starts putting forward legislation. The Lib Dems feel at least they now hold the balance of power, but wait! Suddenly they are being accused of holding parliament to ransom and stopping measures needed to take Britain forward. An angry right wing press hounds them until they are forced to abstain from voting, allowing the Tories to push through legislation ineffectively opposed by Labour.
And so, with record numbers of seats, it’s as if the Liberal Democrats don’t exist at all.
This is my nightmarish prediction of what will happen on and after May 7th. I hope I’m wrong, but I think the Lib Dems are being overly optimistic about the other parties capacity for doing what’s best for the national interest. These are, after all, parties who’re addicted to a political system biased in their favour and will see any change as detrimental to their future.
Cameron will never agree to PR, so in a hung parliament the Lib Dems have two viable options. First, to support Labour with a PR deal, but Labour are playing this election as if they want to lose. Are they really willing to sacrifice a system to heavily biased in their favour, just to secure a short and unpopular parliament? Secondly they could request that they instead form the government backed by Labour. After thirteen years in power, are Labour going to really let the Lib Dems, who they’ve mocked at every turn, become their new masters? The likes of Ed Balls are too proud for that.
So it looks grim for the liberals. Their only hope is to win this election, but they would need a swing of at least 15 points to do that. It’s fantasy, surely? But lets not underplay the public’s thirst for a clean up of politics and a new start for Britain, something neither of the old parties can offer.
Clegg should go for broke on Thursday. I suspect he’d going to play on the defence out of fear of losing his current status in the polls, but he needs to realise that it’s not enough. Only a victory will bring the changes this country needs, the other two parties are not built for coalitions. They don’t know what democracy is.
Good enough to aired again today.