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Friday, May 7, 2010

Election 2010: The 'New' Politics

So the election's over and we have a new man in Number 10; a new broom to sweep away the myriad problems left behind by a tired and discredited government. Oh, sorry, I forgot, we don't. We have one almighty cocking mess.

The results of this election prove, once again, that the first-past-the-post system is knackered. Okay, so voters were able to send that colossal turd Lembit Opik and the odious expenses racketeer Jacqui Smith packing. But that doesn't quite make up for the fact that millions of people might as well have stayed at home than trudged to the local community centre to exercise their democratic right.

The Liberal Democrats have - as usual - got particular cause to feel aggrieved. They garnered nearly a quarter of the popular vote but this translated into only 57 seats in the Commons - a mere nine per cent.

However, for once, the Lib Dems have a golden opportunity, and it's an opportunity that they have to take. Their leader Nick Clegg is being wooed by the vacuous David Cameron to help the Conservatives form a government. He must resist. The Tories will never deliver on electoral reform. If Clegg gets into bed with Cameron he'll be biting the pillow before he can say: 'But you said you wouldn't shaft me!'

He could do nothing and allow the Tories to attempt to rule with a minority government. But how would that help his party's cause? A minority administration would probably lead very quickly to a second election and a Conservative majority. The Lib Dems would be sidelined once more.

Clegg has only one route to take: Go to
Peter Mandelson and offer a coalition based on Brown resigning, seats in the cabinet and a referendum on PR within six months. Labour would go for this and be able to rope in the SNP, Plaid, and one or two others. There would be anger from the Tory press but this could be countered with a strong defence of the new government's legitimacy and wide appeal. It would, after all, have the statistical support of the majority of the voters.

So Mr Clegg, take your chance now or go home and prepare for permanent electoral oblivion.

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