Friday, November 16, 2007

Answering the Hung Parliament question

Our frustration at a quarter of Question Time being spent on the hung parliament question was palpable. Yet at the same time I think there is understandable frustration that neither candidate gave a what would seem to a non-party observer to be a straight answer.

This would be my 'straight' answer:
It is most unlikely that we would end up in a coalition with either party after the election, because I can't see either of them offering to implement anywhere near enough of our manifesto for it to be worth the grief and shame of having to support chunks of their manifesto in return.

However, it is absolutely vital not to rule anything in or out, not to publish any of our 'red lines', because to do so will diminish our leverage should there be any bargaining after an election, and would therefore be a betrayal of our voters and our values. We have no more duty to prop up a minority government than any other party, and we would be just as demanding as any other party in that situation.

There's no point asking us which of the other parties we are closer to, because we don't know what they stand for any more. Frankly, we doubt that they know what they stand for. We are not trying to win votes as a kind of indirect support for one of the other parties - if you support another party, then vote for it, but if you share our vision of a freer, fairer and greener Britain, then vote for us.

A bit painful to say? Perhaps. Might it stem the flow of this question a little? Perhaps. What's the worst that could happen? What am I missing here?

A Tory-Labour coalition might be the most logical, but too much tribal instinct is against it. So while we should suggest it as a natural outcome, it is not a likely outcome. And it is, still, a little evasive not to say more than this.

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