Why is everyone assuming that it’s the Liberal Democrats who will hold the balance of power in a hung parliament?
The Lib Dems choice clearly rests on how much electoral reform they can wrestle from any deal – so the presumption is that they will host a bidding war between Labour and the Conservatives. Thus the consensus is that we have seen the death of first past the post system.
The Tories have little to gain from a coalition, and a lot to lose. With a truly three-party system based on Proportional Representation, the Tories may not see power again for a generation – unless it’s they who offer up the most concessions.
I’ve read a few thoughts that the natural outcome of a Lab-Lib coalition is the bringing together of the centre left movement, while some people argue a Con-Lib coalition would see the end of Labour all together. It’s a good story to tell, and I can see why the media is so fascinated by it.
There are voices within Labour that like the idea of uniting the two centre-left parties, not least Mandelson and Johnson, the former of whom would see it as the culmination of a project begun with the wooing of Paddy Ashdown.
But all this assumes that it will be a coalition involving Nick Clegg’s band of MPs.
If both the Tories and Labour have much more to gain from keeping the current electoral system, which they clearly do – why wouldn’t the two main parties join together and form a majority Government?
A Labour-Conservative coalition gives them both what they need – survival. Any coalition with the Lib Dems does not.