Today’s big news is that Gordon Brown is stepping down from leading Labour in the hope it will make it easier for Labour and the Lib Dems continue talking. For Clegg personally it does a couple of things, first he is not seen as propping up Brown’s premiership. Secondly perhaps the biggest stumbling block between Labour and Lib Dems was the uncomfortable relationship between Brown and Clegg
But perhaps most importantly it’s put pressure on the Conservatives to come up with a deal that involves a promise on proportional or alternative representation. So far the conservatives have made vague noises that they will set up committees to look at AR, but nothing Cameron can be nailed down on so far.
After the very public opening of negotiations with Labour I suspect Cameron’s position will change rather quickly. This may be his only chance to become PM, after so many years in opposition I suspect the party will not give him a lot of time to get this sorted.
A vast majority of Lib Dems feel that a promise on AR is essential to any coalition deal no matter who the bedfellows are. A LibDemVoice survey claims close to 80% of the membership feel that a promise on PR is essential to any alliance or coalition.
Now that negotiations with Labour are publically going on and Brown is stepping aside, the Conservatives have to give a little more or potentially loose power to a Labour-Lib Dem-Nationalist-Alliance-Green coalition. This rather sketchy grouping will provide a wafer thin majority in the House of Commons (assuming Sinn Fein don’t take their five seats as usual).
Not exactly a super stable platform, but it’s enough go to the Queen with, and keep Labour in Number 10 for now and give the Lib Dems what they want (a say, a referendum on PR and a couple of cabinet seats) and time have the Labour leadership election.
A significant number of commentators seem to think a coalition government will only be lasting maybe a year or 18 months, probably not enough time for the Lib Dems to get their PR referendum completed. I don’t think the parties have the energy or finances to run another election campaign before then, while this is not American politics with high profile fundraisers, the parties still needs millions to run the campaigns.
An interesting side note, the three parties are rumoured to have spent around 30 million pounds during the campaign. That gets spent in a single state here for the senate races and is maybe 10-15% of what a single party spends for the presidential election.