Right of centre government in Britain is on the brink of extinction. The massive swing from Cameron to Clegg, if sustained, will result in a hung parliament in which Labour, coming third with 28% of the vote, would still most likely be the largest party. The Liberals can expect to win seats from both Tories and Labour, whilst losing only a few in Southern England to the Tories.
Clegg, now almost sure to be the next Foreign or Home Secretary, will sell his favour and support very dearly. It is inconceivable that he will not make proportional representation a minimum requirement. This means that, in the least complicated of PR systems, a share of vote of 50% would be required to win a majority in Parliament. But we will get a more complicated version, won’t we? A system that somehow safeguards regional fiefdoms of Labour, such as the North East, Merseyside, the Scottish cities, Manchester and Birmingham.
Now, you may say that Clegg is a moderate and can do business with Cameron’s Conservatives; that Clegg was a contributor to the Orange Book in 2004 (remember that? – “The book - which is edited by the Lib Dem Treasury spokesman, David Laws - has just been published, and (among other things) calls on the party to be pro-market, Eurosceptic, and to partially privatise the NHS. It was written by various "reformist" MPs, including Mark Oaten and Vincent Cable.” Independent); that Clegg appears to be a realist. Well, let’s put it this way: does Clegg have more in common with the ‘successful’ era of the Conservatives, ie Thatcherite reforms, common-sense commercial efficiency and customer-orientation imposed upon government services, tough negotiations with Europe, defence of the realm in the Falklands? Or does he have more in common with the ‘successful’ era of the Labour party, ie the first two terms of Blair: tacit acceptance of Thatcher’s reforms, but a clandestine subversion of efficient government by channelling public money in record volume to favoured regions and ministries, whilst dismantling the “establishment” and replacing it with cronies?
Remember, for most of the Blair years, the Liberals had indulged in policies that were seen to be to the Left of Labour. Even if the Orange Book put an end to such nonsense, the party found itself with a support base that actually BELIEVED such drivel. The ascent of Brown has allowed Clegg to regain the ‘Centre’ position, whilst also claiming to be (because of the 90 years it has been out of power) ‘not like the two same-old parties’.
Furthermore, Brown is unlikely to be the recipient of Clegg’s largesse. If he is to share power in a Lib Lab pact, would he wish to report to Brown, vile bully that he is, or a more moderate, flexible and forward-thinking bloke like Miliband? The latter, obviously. Better still, Alan Johnson, who is known to be in favour of PR. Truly, Clegg can be kingmaker next month.
Clegg will go with the socialists unless the Tories are overwhelmingly the largest party in a hung Parliament, which looks unlikely. You may say there would have to be another election within six months, but this seems time enough for the Liberals to exact the ultimate revenge for all those years of slights from the two main parties – electoral reform to ensure that there is never – NEVER – another Conservative government in Britain, nor a Bennite Labour one.
Just a nice, consensual, liberal/social democrat Europhile Big Government, busying itself with the minutiae of our lives and charging us a hefty fee for doing so. Just like those in Western Europe. You know the ones – that have had very high structural unemployment for decades, sclerotic growth, that have porous borders, that appease rather than confront global miscreants, that dislike and distrust the Great Satan America, that are anti-semitic. Hey, they are so alike, they are pursuing political union, the practice of which is evident – an overbearing and only semi-accountable political elite bullying and cajoling bovine electorates into Big Government, Big Regulation, Big Taxation. The sort of thing a ‘Liberal Democrat’ just loves.
Seriously, folks, unless Dave shades it, which he neither threatens nor deserves to do, there will never be another right-of-centre, identifiably Conservative government again in this country. (No, I don't expect Dave to be right-of-centre or identifiably Conservative. But at least he'd keep the door open for someone who is).
UPDATE: Guido is more upbeat, fancying a civil union between the two modern metrosexual achingly with-it centrist parties.