The thing about first past the post, is that you need to get past the post. If no-one makes it past the post, then nobody wins and we’re left with losing parties only, albeit some losing worse than others. Nick Clegg painted himself into a corner with his pre-election commitment to deal with the party winning the plurality of votes and seats. If you believe in PR and the government by coalition that it often produces, then no such commitment is either necessary or desirable.
Together, Labour and the Lib Dems command a vote share of more than 52%, compared with the LD-Con aggregate of 59%. Are we really being told a LD-Con coalition enjoys unimpeachable legitimacy where a LD-Lab equivalent represents an affront to democracy? And are we really being told this – not by a reflexively anti-Labour right-wing press – but by the leader of Britain’s other progressive party? Is Nick Clegg really saying that, even in a post-electoral reform world, he’ll only ever deal with the party that wins the most support, whoever they are, whatever their policies?
Maybe Clegg believes none of this but feels he has no choice but to live with the consequences of misspeaking during the campaign. So right now he’s engaged in trying to sell proportional representation to the one party that stands to suffer most if PR ever takes root for Westminster elections. Or at least he’d better be. Any deal with Cameron that delivers something less than a referendum on electoral reform and Clegg’s Faustian pact with the FPTP fetishists that dominate the Tory party will see him crucified by LD rank and file.
Cameron may be a turkey, but he’s not voting for Xmas any time soon. A referendum will not be gratned, it’ll be the end of the affair and the Tories will attempt minority rule following Brown’s departure. The budget – including Cameron’s reackless withdrawal of fiscal stimulus in what’s left of 2010 – will be voted down and a second election will beckon.
I might even vote in that one.