It seems now that the electioneering has evolved as the concept of a hung Parliament is firming up. My previous article suggesting the government of national unity between the Tories and Labour still looks to me to be the most stable and easiest to broker. It is interesting that in The Times yesterday this option is put as one of the least likely at 100:1 against.
It is a bit difficult to summarise where all the parties stand because as polling day approaches the hard red lines are beginning to get smudged and in some cases painted over.
Starting with UKIP. They will not go into coalition with anyone but will do confidence and supply with the Tories on a vote-by-vote basis if there is to be a referendum on EU membership. The Liberals, SNP, and Plaid Cymru all would refuse a referendum.
The SNP will go into coalition or do a deal with any other party to get into government themselves and to prop up a Labour anti-austerity government. Nicola clearly has her eyes on Deputy PM as a bare minimum. If she can’t do any sort of deal with Labour she is left alienated. If the SNP end up with all seats in Scotland, or maybe all but two or three, we are going to end up with a politically and economically hostile neighbour and the UK as we know will be doomed to break up.
The Liberal Democrats did have a red line about joining in with the SNP and Labour. Now that it is possible they won’t have a lot of seats they realise they may need to cross that line, both to continue to be part of the government and to produce a majority. Nick Clegg would be prepared to have another coalition with the Conservatives but we are not sure now whether the rest of Liberal MPs and supporters would do it a second time.
Plaid Cymru also would like to go into any sort of arrangement with Labour and the SNP provided it is an anti-austerity agreement. They obviously want as much money shovelled over the Severn Bridge as Scotland have shovelled over Hadrian’s Wall.
Labour doesn’t really want to do a deal with anyone and are going for a majority. They are not kidding us, even if they are kidding themselves. Ed now has made it absolutely clear that he would rather not form a government than do any deal with the SNP.
So that leaves Labour with three choices: 1. A minority Labour Government. 2. A Labour + Liberal Coalition, which might still be less than a majority. 3. A Coalition with the Tories. No one has asked Miliband if he would do such a deal because that would be absurd, wouldn’t it?
The Conservatives also don’t want to do a deal with anyone because they are also going for a majority. David has now declared they would do a deal but the red line is that a referendum must be agreed to. So that now rules out Plaid Cymru, the SNP, and even the Liberals, but Labour might be persuaded with the right form of words. A back-to-the-future moment, as it was earlier in this Parliament, that the Tories would seek concessions from the EU and then put the vote to the British people while they and their Labour partners campaign to stay in.
So this leaves the Conservatives with three choices also: 1. A minority Conservative Government. 2. A Conservative + UKIP + DUP Coalition, which might still be less than a majority. 3. A Coalition with Labour.
As I see it then, there only five choices, not 12 as the times suggests.
Unfortunately the fixed term Parliament rule now forces a minority party or multi-party coalition to form a government and to be voted down on the Queen’s Speech or on another bill before a further election can occur.
Do the British voters really want to elect a Labour government re-enacting the last two years of their previous administration where they spent and borrowed recklessly. If so we could be like Greece within five years. The people of the UK will be denied a choice on EU membership because even the suggestion of it Ed believes will upset the economy and our friends in Europe.
Do the voters believe David Cameron when he is promising: 1. To make necessary cuts to clear the deficit within five years. 2. To raise the inheritance tax threshold to £1million. 3. To give us a fair referendum on EU membership. That is a perfect copy of his offerings in the run up to the 2010 election. Unfortunately he gave a cast iron guarantee only on the referendum and clearly that metal is not strong enough.
Would another election later this year achieve a better result or has the ‘first past the post’ system exceeded its best-before date? Unfortunately you cannot amend it without a functioning government and a referendum. You already know that the two major parties will vote to defeat it leaving us ungovernable. What a mess.
As a final point. According to The Dorset Digest, compiled by John Baxter, a referendum on EU membership in 2017 will be meaningless. As a consequence of the Lisbon Treaty, legislation will come into force in March 2017 to block any referendum within any nation state that is unfavourable to the EU, or to discount any result, even if the whole country votes against the EU wishes. David Cameron knows this, which is why he chose 2017 and why he will fight not to hold the referendum sooner.