Follow by Email

Saturday, 12 May 2012

Power in the balance

The so-called ‘renewal of vows’ between the Prime Minister and his Deputy focused attention on the coalition, particularly on the likelihood of it holding fast until the next general election. The two leaders are under intense pressure from within their own ranks to assert clearer identities within the partnership. Both suffered poor results in last week’s local council elections. The Tories might have a case for saying that these results are just a fairly typical example of mid-term blues, but the Liberal Democrats are starting to look even more nervous about their electoral prospects in 2015. Clegg has stated that the two parties are still working together to protect the UK from the ‘financial storm’, but the opinion of many is that he is leading his party to nothing other than electoral oblivion.

I'm not inclined to say much in favour of Nick Clegg. He would appear to be a fairly typical member of the professional political class that, for the time being, we are lumbered with. It is, however, worth pointing out that getting into bed with the Conservatives was the only sensible option open to him in May 2010. Propping up a beaten Brown government would have been an insult to democracy and he would never have been forgiven for that. Some say that he could have chosen to sit it out and let Cameron form a minority government. That, however, would have been an act of cowardice that would almost certainly have rebounded on his party in the autumn /winter election that would surely have followed. Political parties live for the moment that they gain power and Clegg would have been a fool to reject the opportunity to have a meaningful role in government. When you consider that they could only muster 23% of the popular vote in May 2010, it is clear that the Liberal Democrats are currently in possession of an entirely disproportionate amount of power.

Some members of his party might like to complain, but the fact is that Clegg –through a combination of luck and design- has made that 23% go rather a long way. With neither of the major parties looking like a good bet to secure an overall majority in 2015, the notion that one or other of the minor parties will be a semi-permanent power broker is one that we might have to get used to.

No comments:

Post a Comment