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Unhappy Bunnies

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Considered purely as a piece of politics, both the content and the timing of Brown’s resignation were masterly. He gave the Tories time to not-quite make a deal – four days, the same amount of time Wilson gave Heath in 1974. Then he did two things which fundamentally alter the equation for the Lib Dems: he removed himself as problem and he made an offer on the alternative vote and PR which the Tories can’t match.

If the deal went ahead, we would end up with yet another Labour prime minister whom we didn’t elect. We the electorate wouldn’t like that. And I haven’t altered the view I began with, which is that this is a good election to lose. The economic realities are what they are, and no government can possibly combine deeper cuts than Mrs Thatcher’s with electoral popularity. But even giving full weight to both these factors, it’s very difficult for Clegg and the Lib Dems to turn this offer down. A coalition with the Tories would stick in the throat of so many Lib Dem voters that I just don’t think it’s possible. An alliance with Labour isn’t nearly as awkward, especially since it offers in concrete form some of the electoral reform they’ve been fantasising about since the dawn of time.

The voters would be unhappy with the stitch-up. But there’s an upside to that too, since a coalition defeat in the not-too-distant next election would put the onus of the difficult years back on the Tories. A Lib Dem activist I spoke to yesterday, before the news about Brown broke, was saying: ‘What I’d really like is the rainbow coalition. We pass electoral reform, just get something through, and we’d get a kicking at the election but at least it would be done.’

It’s a hell of a fork in the road for Nick ‘I am not the kingmaker’ Clegg. It also has the potential to be a huge mistake for the Labour party, who might well be better advised to accept their defeat and go into opposition. As for Cameron, he must feel ill. A large section of his own party think he cocked up the election; they will not be happy bunnies if they end up on the opposition benches again. The electorate clearly wanted to give all politicians a hard time, and have done a brilliant job of it.

Comments on “Unhappy Bunnies”

  1. Joe Morison says:

    Unhappy bunnies they would surely be, but what could they do? Whatever the frothing right think, it was largely down to Cameron’s softening of the Tory image that they did as well as they did. To put one of their own in his place would consign the party to the margins again – a tempting thought but it’s hard to believe they would be that stupid. Cameron would probably have to shift right to appease them, tho’, and that would have a similar if not so extreme effect.
    There are so many variables and such a range of toxic alternatives that i fear the biggest loser may be democracy itself.

  2. Paul Taylor says:

    Some unelected Prime Ministers:
    37 Chamberlain
    40 Churchill
    55 Eden
    57 Macmillan
    63 Douglas-Home
    76 Callaghan
    90 Major
    07 Brown

    • Thomas Jones says:

      Impressive list… The other annoying thing about all this talk of ‘unelected prime ministers’ is that Gordon Brown was elected MP by his constituency, and leader (admittedly unopposed) by the PLP. That’s the only way prime ministers ever get elected. I know it’s a shorthand way of saying that the Labour party hasn’t won an overall majority with Brown as its leader, but that’s not quite the same thing.

  3. loxhore says:

    It’s looks like the PLP turned Brown’s offer on Clegg’s behalf.

  4. loxhore says:

    *offer down

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