Saturday, May 08, 2010

A caretaker, not a squatter

There are two constitutional conventions that are being (perhaps deliberately) confused at the moment, most prominently by the Sun’s ‘Squatter holed u in No 10’ headline:

  1. If there’s a hung parliament, the sitting PM gets the first chance to see if he can assemble a majority.
  2. If there’s a hung parliament, the sitting PM remains in post while some sort of arrangement is being made, whether or not that involves him and his party.

Gordon Brown has, very sensibly, waived the first of these. But not the second. David Cameron and Nick Clegg have both said that they want to talk to each other and to others in their parties about what sort of deal they might do, so for Brown to have stepped down already would have undermined all this. It would have either forced Clegg to back Cameron immediately and uncritically, or created an unprecedented vacuum in Number 10.

In the next day or two Brown’s not going to sneakily introduce anything remotely resembling a policy. At the moment he’s just a caretaker.

Cameron will almost certainly be PM – if I had to guess, in an arrangement with the Lib Dems that falls short of a full coalition. They disagree on too much and I suspect Clegg knows that a coalition would risk eating his party alive, as well as giving Labour the chance to monopolise opposition.

1 comment:

Matt M said...

I really can't see a Lib Dem / Tory alliance.

Unless Clegg could get Cameron to sign up to radical electoral reform it would be near suicide for his party - they'd suffer in Scotland and probably see the left-wing LDs drift off towards Labour.

My gut-feeling is that the Tories will rule as a minority government for six months to a year and then call another election in the hope of increasing their number of seats.