Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Still waiting

...but then this is not unusual in any form of negotiations. You can't produce a plan for government on the back of a beer mat and these things do take time. Unfortunately taking time is something alien to the UK's political culture where we've become used to instant results.

Glancing around the internet, particularly Twitter, I can see grassroots members in all parties advocating all outcomes, with a few threatening to leave their party if it doesn't take their advice. I'm not going to do the latter but I'll throw my preferred outcome on the pile - a Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition which holds a referendum on the Single Transferable Vote. I don't believe the outcome of such a referendum is at all certain (though I think it can be won for First Past The Post given then right campaign) but one way or another it would settle the election system debate for a generation.

A Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition would have a firm majority in parliament, able to implement necessary decisions. It would be able to implement many areas of common interest. It wouldn't be comfortable for many members in either political party, but often members of governing parties find the conditions of the day require their parties to do things they would ideally rather not do.

Such an arrangement would be inherently more stable than a minority Conservative government, even if the latter had the support of the Democratic Unionist Party. A minority government would always be at risk of the opposition parties all combining and voting it out. It could offer no medium term guarantees. It would not be the best option for the country. A Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition it must be.

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