Monday, 15 February 2010

Of Cleggs and Coalitions...

A report in today's Guardian suggesting the view that Nick Clegg neither favours a coalition with Labour nor with the Conservatives was a good start to my week. It also seems to have found favour with many activists if postings on LibDemVoice are any guide.

Unfortunately, it appears that while the story itself read well, it wasn't true and the Liberal Democrat Party machine has dismissed it with the line being that nothing has been ruled in or out.

Stephen Tall, a Lib Dem blogger of considerable repute, put this on the Guardian website and it's well worth a read. As Stephen says "Influence you can believe in" may not be the most catchy slogan ever but it says it all.

As an LD member, I'm with the majority who want us to stay out of coalitions. The history of the party's involvement with other parties in Government at Westminster is far from glorious and while the Holyrood experience of Jim Wallace and the much-lamented Donald Dewar was a more positive experience, that was arguably a unique circumstance and various pacts at local council level just aren't the same.

Support in favour of or more likely opposition to particular pieces of legislation looks the best route forward for the Party though it relies on a Parliamentary arithmetic that may not be there.

So much depends now on the campaign and whether the Lib Dems can hold or even move on from their current 20-21% in the polls. It was once said Charles Kennedy would have sold his soul for 50 seats and 20% in 2001 - Nick Clegg may have to settle for something similar in 2010. That won't denote a lack of progress by any means - past experience of Conservative victories after periods of Labour Government would have offered 15-16% of the vote and maybe 35 seats as a target so what's on offer looks far better.

In addition, IF the Conservatives win in 2010 with 38% or lower, it will continue their historic decline from 46% in 1970 and 42% in 1979.

I think the Conservatives will win a big majority on a very low turnout but that will mask some big swings in key marginals but that's only my view.

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