I don't know why, but the Liberal Democrats went Ross Perot on us be largely failing to make the gains their exposure in the Leaders' Debates promised. As such the bizarreness of the first past the post system reared its head as the Lib Dems gained as extra 1% of the vote share in a House of Commons which has 4 more MPs than the last and still conspired to lose 5 seats.
Hopes of having 100 seats were dashed and we now have the bizarre permutation where the Tories don't have a majority (306 seats) but Labour (258) and the Lib Dems (57) couldn't combine to make a majority coalition either, at least without nationalist help.
Thus a Lib/Con coalition is the only combination that will give us a strong government for this parliament. Of course, this strength is questionable with the compromises that must be made in order to satisfy both parties.
My struggle is working out which outcome is best from here.
This is the only option that will give a stable government for the 4/5 years. I can't say I'm a fan of this combination mainly because this government would execute the cuts needed and the public won't thank them for it. The Liberal Democrat brand would be contaminated by this association and we would again resume the Red/Blue power struggle. Having some governing experience may do some good for the Lib Dems and make the voters more friendly towards them but that's a big gamble.
This is where a deal is made in the next few days for a programme that will last no longer than a year as the Conservatives back some of the Lib Dems minor bills and the Lib Dems abstain from Conservative bills they disapprove of, rather than vote against. If the Lib Dems had any sense, they'd get hold of the Treasury books and make a big attempt at getting the full picture and making very specific plans for the economy ready for the next general election in 5-12 months time.
A lot of parties will need to pull together to make this work. The price to be paid to appease the nationalists is that England takes the biggest hit on service cuts/tax rises. It would be hard to see this last a full term, just like a Lib/Con pact. The appeal for this is again, the Lib Dems can take a look at the books and as Labour took us into this mess they will receive near the entirety of the blame for subsequent austerity measures.
Should this eventuality occur, things get really unpredictable in the short term. Would the Finance Bill on the back of the emergency budget pass? Would its failure result in a fresh election in July/August? With the Tories effectively giving the public a budget to vote would they win or lose?
There's something about the Con minority government which makes me think we'll reach a conclusion to the economic situation sooner. Another election this year with a bit more information to hand would suit me fine.
Labels: Coalition, Conservative Party, General Election 2010, Government, Labour Party, Liberal Democrats, Majority, Minority