Yellow, orange and blueFebruary 15, 2010
It’s idle speculation on my part, or latter-day Kremlinology, but this appears to bring the prospect of Cameron government that little bit closer:
The Liberal Democrats are planning to rule out forming a coalition government with either the Conservatives or Labour if Nick Clegg holds the balance of power in a hung parliament after the general election.
As Whitehall’s most senior civil servants and Buckingham Palace make detailed preparations to clarify the Queen’s role in the event of a hung parliament, senior Lib Dems are making clear that Clegg has no interest in taking cabinet posts and would focus instead on winning support for four key Lib Dem demands.
Clegg is an Orange Book Lib Dem (remember them?) with no great ideological qualms about backing Tories[*] – quite the opposite, if push comes to shove. He may have problems selling Liberal support for a national Tory government to chunks of his own membership, and I suspect he lacks the bottle to confront them directly. This proposal neatly avoids that issue.
On Cameron’s side, he can – as and when needed – blame his uppity Lib Dem supporters for having to push through whatever pro-Europe measures the saner elements of British capital decide are necessary.
It could be all very convenient, in the short term. But it will compound the feebleness of the Cameron leadership. It’s not guaranteed – Clegg’s options remain open, to say nothing of the general election result itself – but the prospect of a weak, minority Tory government having to drive through major spending cuts lies open. A Very Public Sociologist has more on minority administrations.
[*] do Lib Dems do “ideological qualms”? Ever?