Tory-Lib Dem deal draws nearer

With all respect to them, a Labour-led government depending on a gather-up of  3 SDLP, 1 Alliance, 1 North Down Independent and the Nats  – maybe even including the DUP for goodness sake –  cannot be called stable. Even the Guardian, the voice of the “progressive majority” is steeling itself for a Conservative-Lib Dem deal. Across the aisle, pro-Tory commentator Ben Brogan is pretty firm about the extent of Cameron’s offer to Clegg.

He is offering to trade reform of the voting system for a two-year deal with Nick Clegg that would deliver economic and social change and, in particular, the painful cuts needed to reduce the deficit. Suddenly, it is the Conservatives who are the radicals.

Senior sources speculate that he could eventually offer the Lib Dems a form of electoral reform based on the additional vote system (AV) or even the AV-plus devised by the Lib Dem peer Lord Jenkins – and rejected by Mr Blair – more than a decade ago. Both maintain the constituency link that Tories say is essential, and both require voters to express a second preference.

For the Tories this would kill off the UK Independence Party vote which cost them an estimated 21 seats last week – enough to give them a majority. Even far-Right Tories have spotted this opportunity.

Mr Cameron is focused on delivering what his party wants: power.

 Electoral reform for a smaller Commons may even appeal to Tories who have noticed that the Celtic fringe made a big contribution to their failure to reach a majority. Watch out for new strains over devolution.

Coalition or confidence and supply? With places in government, the Lib Dems could keep a closer watch on the deal . If any arrangement collapses , they’ll take heat anyway. And the scale of the U turn Cameron has to make over electoral reform? The new Parliament will have a majority in favour of reform  (although with dissidents on both sides) and the Conservatives may reserve the right to oppose it in a referendum that will be years away yet.

At his moment of maximum discretion , Cameron may be deciding to lead the realignment of politics to trump his own Right wing and thwart a later Lab-Lib alliance. A leftward lean on electoral reform may be balanced by good luck from Europe. The massive rescue package for the euro seems to have halted the crisis, at little cost to Britain.

This buys time for the UK to sort a new government out. Dealing with the wolf cries emerging from the Times is for another day.

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit

    Brian,

    there is nothing unstable about Libs and Labs with the Nat groups (SDLP, Plaid and SNP) with of course Naomi. (DUP not required and would be a public relations disaster in face of Tory press onslaught).

    All the Nat parties are actually in assembly government at the moment and behaving sensibly. To pain this scenario as some kind of flybynight unstable rainbow is either spin or a simple failure to examine the facts.

    That does not mean it would be an easy ride and the Plain People of England would not be pissed off at having to pay for the support of the Nats but electorally it is all one country so Scottish Nats voters have just as many rights as Tory Surrey ones and thems the constitutional and mathematcial rules .

    Hopefully El Gordo will dive on his sword (but not yet) and the ‘progressive alliance’ will emerge.

  • Fretjumper

    As a child of the 80’s in Norn Iron the thought of any type of Tory govt is not one to relish. Clegg may well regret shaking hands with this blue devil. The phrase at the moment is ‘the National Interest’ but what nation exactly? There are no Tories in NI, Scotland and just a few in Wales. Is it the return of the Little Englanders? Perhaps the Lib Dems will act as a chain on John Bulldog but I doubt they’re strong enough to hold him back indefinitely. Dark days ahead I fear…

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit

    Fretjumper,

    although I agree with your sentiment the Tories do have a seat in Scotland and if PR were introduced they would have bunch more plus a few in Norn Iron – although of course (happily) a few less in England.

  • physter_sprouting

    Interesting YouGov analysis in today’s Guardian which suggests that the Lib Dems could be badly hammered in a second election as a result of any coalition with the Tories.

    If just one in five Lib Dems switched at the next election then 55 seats would turn Labour giving them a majority. (43% of Lib Dems consider themselves ‘left or left of centre’.)

  • Greenflag

    No flies on Clegg . His party negotiators have also been meeting with Labour over the weekend .

  • TheHorse

    Does anyone believe if this Rat Pack gets their act together they will overturn this slid under the counter law that attacks freedom of information and the only form of free speech left on the planet.

    http://www.prisonplanet.com/internet-police-london-signs-warn-against-accessing-extremist-material.html

    How long will it be before criticism of those in power is deemed inappropriate. How long before sluggerotoole and other blogs who question the government sponsered media’s version of the truth is added to the censored list.

  • TheHorse,

    That’s one of the main reasons I support a Lib/Con pact – both parties agree on the need for a Repeal Bill to undo Labour’s anti-liberal legislation. How committed they are remains to be seen – I suspect a lot of Tories would be happy enough to keep a few legal shackles around in the name of National Security.

  • Andrew

    There are Tories in Scotland & Wales Examine the facts

  • RepublicanStones

    Clegg’s damned if he does and damned if he doesn’t. The left of centre of his party will recoil in horror at the thought of a pact with the Tories. The likes of David Laws and others would melt at the thought of jumping on Labour’s sinking ship. If he abstains from any pact, the Lib Dems will be just seen to be the dithering prick teasers many think they are. With Brown now absenting himself, that means if he presses ahead with a Lab/Lib coalition, then that will be two unelected Labour PM’s to have served successively (not sucessfully) which will piss off many of those mythical creatures…the floating voters, which given the very real possibility of another general election within the year, could condemn the Lib Dems if they don’t (and lets face it, they prob won’t) get electoral reform pushed through. Faust’s choice looks like a no brainer by comparison.

  • Rory Carr

    LibDems – the political equivalent of the male nipple – you wonder what the hell use they are but mostly ignore their presence except when periodically (as on this occasion) they start to chafe. Eventually of course they will simply disappear – and not a moment too soon I hear you say.

  • TheHorse

    What a spanner in the works for the supporters of the Union. The LibDems demanding electoral reform which would ultimately lead to the break up of the Union.

  • The Lib Dems are now in cosy talks with Labour. If that works out it will be interesting, since they cannot govern without the help of the nationalists…

    PR would be good for the UK. It is a better system and may keep the union in place.

  • Khalekan

    “if he presses ahead with a Lab/Lib coalition, then that will be two unelected Labour PM’s to have served successively ”

    ===========

    This issue is a total red herring.

    The UK is a parliamentary democracy and people vote for a party.

    If that party changes leader during its term of office it is within the rules.

    Two of the last four Tory PMs have came to power in this way, Home and Major, so the Conservatives have no room to complain.

    In fact, I think MacMillan may have even acceeded to the Premiership in this way.

  • TheHorse

    Hello Pippakin free speech eh, depends on what you say, Richard Murdock style editing and all, not your fault about that I admit.

  • RepublicanStones

    People do indeed vote for a party, but to pretend the personality leading the party has no effect on the outocme of an election is naive to say the least. The Tories have also raised the issue of the unelected manner of Brown’s premiership. Home was defeated in an election after about a year and Major actually one his first G.E as P.M. So to try and equate those two examples with two successively unelceted Labour P.M’s is null and void. As you say it’s within the rules (nobody said it wasn’t) but don’t think it won’t be an issue.

  • Briso

    Cameron was elected Prime Minister was he?

  • Hello Horse

    You have no idea how much I wish you were right! but Im afraid I have to take my share of the blame. Not for starting it, but I should have left it. Instead I allowed my anger to take over.

    We went too far. Not you, but others, including me. Seems to me free speech is very expensive, and we must be prepared to pay the price…

  • RepublicanStones

    Briso, as much as i’d love to indulge your fixation with semantics, you should go and argue with…mmm… Hague for example. Try the Torygraph today, you might have better luck there.