In my earlier post, before all the results had been announced I expressed the view that there was very little in the parliamentary arithmetic to prevent the LibDems going into coalition with Labour. Nothing has happened in the past 48 hours to change my view.
What I am impressed at is how well the various parties are conducting themselves. I expressed the view that openness should have been the mantra. I was wrong. The openness comes later when the “deal” is sold to the public.
I think we can take it for granted that no party will get good press from the “rabid blue-tops”. They are really so discredited now that one wonders how they can pretend to be serious newspapers at all; so let’s not bother with them and the audiences they sell their papers to. Their readership will not easily change their minds anyway in the short-term. However, the story for everyone else has to be explained and be believable.
I think we can see now that a fixed-term parliament is a pre-condition for any deal with the Conservatives – particularly if they are not going to give anything on electoral reform. However, “in the national interests” is a strong message and the temptation to do “the right thing” may be just too strong – particularly if the commitment to a fixed-term parliament, a review of the electoral system and some cabinet posts are offered. An even more strong incentive might be that the LibDems could be instrumental in moderating Conservative economic policy; it will be interesting to see how this one is painted should a deal with the Conservatives be sealed.
However, I still see the possibility of a firm, strong coalition with Labour as the best outcome for both the country and for the two parties. We’ll just have to wait and see!