It’s NOT a coalition: Clegg will prop up Tory minority
The Mole: What’s really being discussed by Lib Dem grandees is a minority Cameron government
This is the Mole's quick Q&A guide to what is really going on this weekend as the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats attempt to piece together the conditions for a stable government.
Q: Why isn't there going to be a coalition?A: Clegg would like a job in the Cabinet, but Lib Dem grandees and Tory top brass don't want to get into bed with each other. They are at odds over the Lib Dem demand for electoral reform. And can you see George Osborne giving up his chance to be Chancellor to Vince Cable?
Q: How will a minority Government work?
A: Clegg and his Lib Dems abstain on all the big votes, or vote down what they don't like. But they pass the Queen's Speech and Cameron's emergency Budget, which is promised within 50 days.
Q: What's in it for Clegg?
A: The kudos of being responsible - UK shares and Sterling could fall off a cliff on Monday if the markets are spooked by a lack of firm government - and avoidance of blame for the nasty cuts that will have to be implemented fast.
Q: So what's in it for Cameron?
A: He gets to show he can run a Government, and head off the financial crisis which could hit Britain next week. He could use the Lib Dems as an excuse to jettison Tory policies that have become unpopular - raising the threshold for inheritance tax for double millionaires could go. He could also curry favour with the Lib Dem voters who stopped him getting a majority by adopting their plan for lifting more low-paid people out of tax.
Q: What about proportional representation?
A: Cameron's offer of a review by an all-party committee is a fig-leaf - and a small one at that. Everyone knows it. But the alternative - a deal with Brown - is unlikely to deliver the national referendum on proportional representation he has promised, because the Bill to implement it couldn't get through the Commons and the Lords.
Q: Why doesn't Clegg do a deal with the squatter in Number 10, Gordon Brown?
A: The numbers don't add up. Labour got 258 seats. If the 57 Lib Dems voted with them, that would only add up to 315. Cameron has 306 seats. He could probably call on the 8 DUP MPs to support him: 315 to 314. It's too tight to build an alliance on.
Q: What about the SNP, Plaid Cymru and the 3 SDLP MPs and the lone Green?
A: Labour in Scotland hate the SNP more than the Tories. Plus, the SNP want millions of pounds diverted from London (including a share of the Olympic Games regeneration money). It would be too expensive to do a deal with Alex Salmond, the SNP leader. Ditto for Plaid Cymru. The Irish SDLP and the Green are likely to vote with Brown, but it's still not enough.
Q: So Camo will run a minority government for five years?
A: You must be joking. Put a bet on another election in October (like 1974) so Cameron can ask for a majority.
Q: And how do you get Gordon Brown out of 10 Downing Street?
A: Call in the SAS. ·
Comments are now closed on this article