After a truly alien peak in pubic sympathy following from Clegg’s performance in the X-factor presidentialism that were the ‘debates’, the Lib Dems came crashing back down to reality on Thursday night when they realised this would count for nought in terms of electoral success and it must have been truly painful for them to discover that they had actually managed to pull off a net loss of seats. They their woes have only just begun.
I have always touted my personal hypothesis that the Lib Dems achieving their wish of a hung Parliament putting them in a kingmaker position would be the death of the party. The party would be faced with the need to actually make a choice, and whichever choice they made would alienate one section of the party or another. It seems that the Lib Dem leadership has made its choice, they will prop up a Tory government. Even worse, it seems they will do so without electoral reform even being a condition.
I’m sure that over the coming weeks many commentators will suggests that this comprises a stab in the back forthe grassroots by the party leadership, this is nonsense – they were stabbed in the front. If there was one thing the Clegg made clear before the election it was that he would favour the Tories as coalition parters (with the justification, disingenuous or not, that they have the most seats) and that he would place the ‘national interest’ of ‘stable government’ first and not hold the country to ransom over proportional representation. Perhaps the only thing mildly surprising about this event is that a politician has actually stuck to his promises.
Even so, both party activists and most certainly their general support base isn’t going to take the news universally well. How will Scotland react to the Liberals imposing a Tory Government on them? It’s probably safe to conclude that it won’t be particularly positive, and I wouldn’t be surprised if a few Scottish Liberals cross the house (either to Labour or even the SNP) before a Lib Dem wipeout sweeps the highlands.