Friday, 7 May 2010

The aftermath

What an intriguing election result; the most interesting result which it is possible to imagine. It looks as if the voters have, whether inadvertently or not, given a fine two fingers to the political class.

With the numbers now coming out, neither the Conservatives, nor a LibDem-Lab coalition, could actually achieve a majority government. This means that the only coalition game in town is a Conservative-LibDem coalition. My bet is that that won't happen, because the LibDem's price would be proportional representation in the Commons and the Conservatives are not prepared to offer it, and the LibDem's "triple-lock" would prevent a coalition on any other basis.

Gordon Brown could try to form a coalition of Labour, the Lib Dems, the DUP and/or the SNP and Plaid Cymru, but the bribes payable to the DUP/SNP/Plaid would probably be too high to be acceptable to voters in England, and even if not it would be so unstable as to be unworkable, particularly if the SNP and Plaid Cymru stick to their policy on not voting on England-only matters.

So my bet is a Conservative minority government with a LibDem undertaking for the time being to vote with them, or abstain, at the Queen's Speech and on budget/taxation matters. If the Conservatives are willing to offer the LibDems an elected House of Lords under proportional representation, which they probably are, that may keep it in place into next year, but probably not much beyond that.

If the LibDems are not prepared to agree even that, then the emerging make-up of the House of Commons would prevent any workable government being formed and we can look forward to another election in four weeks' time and a Gordon Brown "caretaker" administration in the meantime. The LibDems almost certainly don't want to take that risk: so big pressure on Nick Clegg.

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