Nick Clegg is probably right to hold talks with both parties, however I do not believe that we should do a deal with the Labour Party.
I hate myself for saying that. I thoroughly despise the Conservatives and their values. BUT....
They are the largest party. There are signs that the negotiations between the two parties have found enough common ground to put in place a programme for government that both parties can live with. William Hague this evening has offered a referendum on PR - albeit on AV, not STV.
The Labour Party does not have enough seats to enter a coalition with ourselves and have a majority without the support of the nationalist parties in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. I fear the cost of their support may be too high - in the same way as most conservative voters probably see working with the Liberal Democrats as being too high a price to pay for a majority. There are however three other important reasons that I believe we should not ally ourselves with Labour:
- Gordon Bruin has announced his intention to stand down in an honourable and statesman like way. In doing so, he has cleared away some of the objections the Nick Clegg and his team have to working with Labour. However, it means that we do not know WHO the Labour Prime Minister would be for months. This is not a recipe for strong government and the markets would crucify the country if we did a deal under such circumstances. Additionally I do not believe the electorate would forgive us for landing the country with another, unelected PM - especially if it was Harriet Harman!
- No overall majority - more than two parties in a marriage is usually not a recipe for success!
- PR - Labour have offered, so we are told, immediate legislation in the Commons to introduceAV, with a referendum to follow on full PR. Now, I want PR - badly. Really. However, I do believe that this is a significant change to our constitution and the public I believe has the right to make the decision on whether the system should change. Not politicians in a dark room somewhere hammering out a dodgy deal. The country should have an open, honest debate on the merits of the different systems and make an informed choice, and that includes the introduction of AV.
I never thought I would say that.