Lib Dems Direction
by Jerome Armstrong, Sun May 09, 2010 at 11:50:46 AM EDT
That is the message coming from the leader of the Scottish National Party, Alex Salmond. He's calling on the Liberal Democrats to join him and Plaid Cymru and Labour in a "progressive alliance" instead of doing a deal with the Conservatives.
All the talk is about the possibility of a Lib Dem - Conservative "marriage in hell" government. That would be surprising. First, because it wouldn't likely work well given they disagree on about everything; second, because the Lib Dems ranks would revolt at the first sign of the government becoming more conservative. The Tories are calling it the "change coalition" and the progressives are calling it an outrage.
Here's what I agree with:
Monitor Twitter and the blogosphere today and the conventional wisdom consensus that emerges is that Nick Clegg is indeed about to do a deal with the Conservatives, possibly even at the cost of electoral reform ...
Is this really possible? I cannot believe it, and not just because Clegg reiterated his support for electoral reform at yesterday's central London rally. You can call it wishful thinking, but I genuinely believe that there is an element of going through the motions going on here, and that talks with the Tories may yet break down, after which the Lib Dems will give a serious look at Labour's comprehensive offer of PR and numerous Cabinet places.
A pact of the Lib Dems with Labour hasn't looked very attractive either to Clegg. He's probably going to demand a new PM for it to work. The interesting development is that, because Labour doesn't have enough seats to reach 326 with the Lib Dems (even though its arguable that only 320 or so are needed), other minor parties will be needed in the coalition, and this is where it gets interesting.
The call for a Labour/Lib Dem/nationalist progressive alliance:
If Labour (258 MPs), the Lib Dems (57 MPs), the SNP (6 MPs), Plaid Cymru (3 MPs), the SDLP (3 MPs) and the Greens (1 MP) all join forces, they would have 328 votes in the Commons - a majority.
The details of the nationalists putting this out yesterday after the jump.
That comes after this post yesterday:
4.51pm: Plaid Cymru is supporting the SNP call for a progressive alliance in the Commons (see 2.47pm and 3.46pm). Plaid's leader, Ieuan Wyn Jones, has said this:
We will now do what is expected of us by the electorate and explore the potential of working with other parties in Westminster in order to achieve the best deal for Wales. A more balanced Parliament is a real opportunity to bring about a new approach to politics in the UK which would be welcomed throughout the nations of these islands.
Plaid Cymru and the SNP have appointed teams to discuss the mechanics of possible coalition negoations. That does not mean they have started talks with Labour. It just means they are making contingency plans.
3.46pm: Jackie Ashley at Cif at the polls says Alex Salmond's intervention in the hung parliament debate today (see 2.47pm and 3.28pm) could be "critical".
Now that Salmond is offering SNP and Plaid Cymru support – even if it is only to bring in PR – that's another 9 MPs, bringing the numbers to 324. Caroline Lucas, the sole Green MP could be expected to join them too – 325. Then there are 3 SDLP MPs, or the 1 Alliance MP from Northern Ireland who may lend support and bingo – the once in a lifetime chance to change the electoral system.
2.47pm: According to the BBC, here is what Alex Salmond has said about a pro-PR alliance (see 1.39pm)
The assumption is a Tory/Liberal Democrat pact is not correct. There are alternative and more progressive options available if politicians have the will to seize the moment. The SNP and Plaid are indicating that we do.
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