Sat May 8th, 2010 at 05:37:08 PM EST
Who is Nick Clegg, that he would accept a deal with Conservative David Cameron dashing the dream of generations of Lib Dems (proportional representation) and effectively destroying the party? Who is he; uh, how 'bad' is he? Several here say he'll go Cameron, but what will be his real, get-mine reason? Or, is Clegg simply playing smart politics, pretending there are two tempting choices here cuz it sucks a better deal out of Labour's Brown? What he should do is obvious to 'his people', reading the unscientific but damned overwhelming UK Guardian Reader Poll:
Given the overtures from Gordon Brown and David Cameron, who should Nick Clegg back?
77.4% Gordon Brown, with his PR referendum
22.6% David Cameron, with his 'comprehensive offer'
Or, let Polly Toynbee say it all (the header and sub-head are enough):
The hopes of decades rest with Clegg. He must hold his nerve
For once, Lib Dems are in a position to demand crucial voting reform. A once unthinkable progressive coalition is on the table
Saturday 8 May 2010
Will Hutton also puts things forcefully and correctly on the realpolitik (though with too much optimism/idealism on the implications of a Lab/Lib coalition):
Forget the niceties, Nick, shun the Tories and join with Labour
The Liberal Democrats have real power in their hands. They must use it ruthlessly to usher in a fairer Britain
Saturday 8 May 2010 20.00 BST
. . . This is real power and it comes but once a generation. It is power to insist on a referendum on proportional representation. Power to break up the banking system and reconstruct British finance. Power to insist on civil liberties and repeal of the legislation on ID cards. Power to require that British newspapers are owned by EU, if not British, nationals who pay UK tax and conform to British competition policy. Clegg has been so roughed up by News International and the Telegraph that at the very least Mr Murdoch and the Barclays brothers should pay tax for the privilege. The Liberal Democrats can be political eunuchs or they can use the moment to effect the change that brought them into politics.
The Conservative argument is that losers have no democratic right to form a coalition government. Moreover, such is the extent of the budgetary crisis - and the worrying movements of the financial market - that Britain must have stable rather than coalition government to drive through the necessary change. This is wrong on every count.
First, the British parliamentary system is built on representative democracy. After a general election, the government of the day seeks its mandate in the House of Commons. If it can deliver a majority of one, then it is the government. As a matter of psephological fact, the rainbow coalition would represent approaching 53% of the electorate and have a majority in the House of Commons. It may infuriate the Conservatives, but this is a both a constitutionally and politically legitimate government. The "losers" have a parliamentary majority because the general election did not produce a one-party winner.
Once again the tired "The conservatives won, so it's undemocratic that they shouldn't form the government" argument; but is that it, or is there a real principled argument for why Clegg should form a coalition with the Conservatives rather than Labour? Or is this all about Clegg's personal interests and making a deal with a wealthy Conservative Party capable of being very persuasive?