Thoughts on politics and life from a liberal perspective

Monday, 26 April 2010

Is Clegg playing a deadly game against the Tories?

So what was Nick Clegg playing at yesterday morning on Andrew Marr's show? This is exactly what he said:

"It is just preposterous the idea that if a party comes third in the number of votes, it still has somehow the right to carry on squatting in No 10."

"A party which has come third - and so millions of people have decided to abandon them - has lost the election spectacularly (and) cannot then lay claim to providing the prime minister of this country."

I suppose in a narrow way he is not ruling out the possibility of forming a coalition with Labour were they to come third. However the price would be for him to be the Prime Minister within any such arrangement. I expect this would be too high a price for Labour to swallow.

So effectively this is ruling out a coalition with Labour. What it is definitely ruling out is Gordon Brown staying on as Prime Minister if his party comes third. And I think this fact highlights what Clegg is doing here.

One of the main Tory attack lines of the last week has been "Vote Clegg, get Brown" with the implication that in a balanced parliament situation, Clegg would somehow automatically go for propping up a Brown led administration. His statements today make it clear that that cannot happen if Labour come third. So what he has done is make it clear that a vote for Clegg is not a vote for Brown. That will have spiked the Tories guns.

But it will also make it that bit easier for people who really dislike Brown and are thinking of voting Lib Dem to do so. This could well have the effect of peeling off soft Tory voters who are only currently thinking of doing so because they want to see the back of Brown. Of course the more that happens, the higher the Lib Dem vote share goes and the more and more likely it becomes for Labour to actually be in third place. The intended effect of the statements today could actually feed into making the political landscape fit the pattern that the statements refer to in a positive feedback loop. Very clever stuff.

And that could be deadly for the Conservatives.


David Matthewman said...

Well, yes, but ...

In doing so, he's sacrificed the support of a number of people who - however much they dislike Brown - regard the Tories as worse. He's made it 'vote Clegg, get Cameron' (pretty much inevitably, unless our vote hises enough for us to be the largest party or there's a massive Labour surge), and that could cost us dear.

Hobhouse said...

My thoughts exactly. Good one Mark

Anonymous said...

I'm not convinced that he handled the further questioning all that well though, he was wavering on a ''could work with Brown if he had a miraculous conversion on a wide range of issues'' answer, which wouldn't have come across well. Inevitably Tim Montgomerie and others started jumping on that as evidence that he ''could'' work with Brown, although that's a pretty outlandish conclusion given the strength of the previous comments.

Sunny H said...

Yup, he's angling to be PM.

I don't think thats a definite ruling out of a coalition though... don't see how Brown could survive if the party does actually come third in the popular vote:

Anonymous said...

this page froze my browser

not coming here again