Friday, May 07, 2010

So, basically, Klegg says he will prop up the Cameron and continue to "argue for" fairness.

Can he really be saying that he'll anoint the Blue Party -- who won't promise any kind of constitutional reform, and keep out the Red Party -- who will have a referendum on voting reform?

And I voted for this guy, when I could have voted for the identity card anti-civil libertarian nutters who lied about a the homophobic old etonian nutters who like national service and was a very good "Legalize Drugs" independent. If I'd voted for him, his score might have reached double figures.


Phil Masters said...

No, Clegg has said (a) that a party with the most votes and the most seats has by rights the first crack at putting a government together - which is pretty much a statement of the constitutional position, such as there is one, and frankly fair enough - and (b) that he'll be continuing to push for "fairness", which presumably is a code-word for some kind of PR. He said nothing about propping the Tories up, beyond the basic idea of letting them take the first go, and the two clauses look completely separate to me.

In other words, it seems to me, this is a negotiating position, with a clear objective (electoral reform) which the LibDems need to accomplish before they can ever accomplish anything else. Cameron can play along or he can refuse; if he refuses, Clegg is free to go back to Brown and say "Okay, your turn to bid".

It's politics, and I'm sure that some people will hate the aesthetics of it whatever happens, but by playing it this way, Clegg avoids accusations of propping up a discredited and failing Labour government - and the raw numbers of seats this morning means that, if Cameron is prepared to deal, it'll be a hell of a lot easier to get the reforms through than it would be with a patched-up Labour/LibDem/Other coalition.

The snag is that Cameron may well refuse the implicit deal, and aim to go it more or less alone. He may then patch together a working minority government. But at least then he'll be the one taking the flack for the economic situation for the next couple of years, whereas a LibDem/Labour coalition would have even more trouble getting anything done in the House and would take even more blame... If Clegg is being smart, the electoral reform has to come first and fast, because being stuck as part of shaky coalition is going to be no fun without that reward.

Phil Masters said...

Addendum; okay, "constitutional" was probably over-egging the point; Labour seem to think that the sitting Prime Minister gets first go if anyone does. Though I guess that strictly, of course, there's only one person who gets to decide who gets invited to form Her Ministry. Ho bloody ho.

Yes, I do think that a written constitution might not be a bad idea.

Andrew Hickey said...

Also, it's not actually Clegg's decision. He's meeting the Federal Executive and the Parliamentary Party tomorrow to discuss with them what to do, and he *can't* do anything unless they agree.

And the Federal Executive have asked for feedback from as many people as possible (party members like myself matter more, but they're after everyone's opinion) - email (there's a stupid autoreply, but it *IS* the correct email address) and say what you think.

For the record, I told them that I definitely *DID NOT* vote for a coalition with the Tories.

Andrew Hickey said...

This blog comment is how most Lib Dems I know see/want it happening -

Andrew Hickey said...

But email that email address. I think they're going to get a LOT of anti-Tory messages today...

Phil Masters said...

Andrew probably has a clearer idea of the political details here than I do, so I won't argue with him - but anyway, the point stands that Clegg currently seems to be taking a negotiating position. If this happens to involve telling Cameron to make the first bid, well, whatever - it doesn't have to imply any particular bias in favour of the Tories. He gets at least a couple of days of benefit of the doubt on that.

And his position currently looks a bit like taking the moral high road. Yes, yes, I realise that any idea involving being polite to the Tories doesn't count as the high road to a lot of LibDem voters - but he's acknowledging the reality that the Tories got the most votes and the most seats last night. If he jumped into bed with Brown straight away, that would be described by the Tory press as a conspiracy to prop up a failed Labour government and to defy the will of a plurality of the electorate. By standing up and saying that the Tories get first go as a matter of objective principle, Clegg obliges Tory supporters to call him things like "statesmanlike". Now, if he does do a deal with Brown next week, well, he can say "we tried".

Cameron's little speech this afternoon, attempting to claim common ground with the LibDems without actually conceding anything that would annoy the backwoods (i.e. anything very large), was an interesting sight. I suspect that, at heart, Cameron would be fairly comfortable conceding STV or PR or whatever - he's cocky enough about his own abilities and Tory funding that he'd reckon he could win that game. But the backwoods would suffer mass burst blood vessels.

Andrew Hickey said...

Not arguing with you, Phil - quite the opposite. You're pretty much spot on. Just saying that what members and supporters say to party over next 17 hours or so will make *HUGE* difference as well. Clegg is a smart negotiator, but I honestly don't know which way he'd jump, so if you have a firm opinion, give him a nudge.

Gavin Burrows said...

Addendum; okay, "constitutional" was probably over-egging the point

A point of order for my learned colleague! Actually, the constitutional position is that the incumbent stays Prime Minister until someone else gets enough of a vote going to dislodge him. I guess it's all to do with the indirect nature of electing a Prime Minister, we elect a bunch of people who then elect their boss.

It's pretty hilarious that the Tories are complaining about this now, when last time this situation happened they were the incumbent and they made the most of it!

But whether what's traditional is 'fair enough', that may well be another matter...

Mike Taylor said...

Just in case anyone cares, I just sent this short, to-the-point message to (and thanks to Andrew Hickey for passing on the address).


A quarter of the vote yields a tenth of the seats.

This shows that PR is a must. The LibDems must simply state that they
will side with whichever party will make that happen.

Then hopefully the NEXT election will not be a charade.

Hope that helps.