What’s a Clegg to Do?

by Mike on May 7, 2010

in Election 2010,UK Politics

With no party securing a majority in yesterday’s election, Nick Clegg’s Liberal Democrat Party now has the power to sweep David Cameron into Downing Street or to prop up the Labour government that soundly rejected at the polls.  Earlier today, Clegg stated that the Conservatives had the right to try and form a government.  Cameron and Clegg will meet later tonight to try and hammer out the details.  if the meeting is unproductive, Clegg will have a decision to make and neither option is attractive to his party.

To the extent the Liberal Democrats stand for anything, their political views are more closely aligned with those of the Labour Party.  Both parties contain a vocal peacenik element.  Both parties believe in an activist government, though the Liberal Democrats are more sensitive to civil liberties.  Labour is a better match for Clegg’s party.

The problem is that the Liberal Democrats would probably be sacrificing themselves if they side with Labour.  Part of Clegg’s appeal during the pre-election hype was his commitment to a clean break from the politics of the day.  Propping up a Prime Minster who is as unpopular as he is incompetent would eviscerate any goodwill that Clegg may have built up with voters during the campaign.  While it’s true that this year’s Cleggmania did not translate into votes, it did cause many people to at lest consider voting LibDem for the first time.  Any hopes of eventually winning over the people who considered voting LibDem but voted for someone else this time will be dashed if Clegg keeps the Prime Minister in power over the objections of the British people.  Labour may be more in tune with who the Liberal Democrats are, but political suicide may be the price of following their instincts.

Clegg could also choose to side with the Conservatives.  Clegg has already stated that the largest party should have the right to form the next government and David Cameron is making overtures.  The problem with supporting the Conservatives is that rank and file Liberal Democrats could revolt.  Although Cameron has not proven himself to be as skeptical of the state as Margaret Thatcher, most Liberal Democrats view the Tories as a party of Jesse Helms/Jim DeMint hybrids.  The Conservatives and Liberal Democrats simply are not compatible.

The wisest move Clegg could make is to refuse to enter into a coalition with the Conservatives, but publicly state his support for the Conservatives forming a minority government.  The Liberal Democrats could vote in favor or abstain from voting on the Queen’s Speech and on the budgets to keep the government afloat, and then work with Cameron’s government on an issue by issue basis.  That way, there would be no entangling alliance that would risk an intra-party civil war and the British people would see that Clegg’s Liberal Democrats respect the will of the people.  That would leave the UK with a stable, minority government similar to the one they have in Canada led by Stephen Harper.  That way, everyone wins. Except Gordon Brown of course, but that was what yesterday was all about anyway.

Leave a Comment

You can use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

Previous post:

Next post: