The Liberal Democrats should be open about willing to deal with other parties in a hung Parliament
Nick Clegg, the leader of the Liberal Democrats has said that the party will not be willing to support the opposition. But, it would be likely that the Libral Democrats will choose to support either Labour or the Conservatives if a hung Parliament arises.
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Clegg said recently that the Liberal Democrats will support the party who wins the election
Talks about coalition are in their early stages and a hung Parliament may not happen. Nick Clegg is in the spotlight, he is often asked what he would do in the case of a hung Parliament. He has recently stated that he would offer his support to the party who wins the election and this is most likely to be the Conservatives. It is unclear whether he mean the party who wins the most votes or the most seats in the House of Commons. Jackie Allen in the Guardian raises this point.
The problem is whether the Liberal Democrats go through with this. The Liberal Democrats hold different views that the Conservatives on a huge issue in British politics: Europe. The Conservatives are anti-Europe (want to leave the European Union) while the Liberal Democrats are pro-Europe. David Cameron would not be able to concede to the Liberal Democrats on this issue. Labour are raising the issue of the voting system - they are pledging to introduce the alternative vote, the Liberal Democrats want Proportion Representation to be introduced.
The problem here is adequately stated in the argument outline opposite. "A hung Parliament may not happen", "most likely to be the Conservatives" who win the election. With so many uncertainties, how can the Liberal Democrats remain politically strong by announcing its intentions under all possible circumstances. It would not want to cut off the support of one party over another in case the other party should indeed win the election. It is far from clear that the Conservatives will win the next election, this is why we are debating the possibility of a hung Parliament.
A coaltion may help the Liberal Democrats
If the Liberal Democrats did make a coalition then they may be able to get some of their policies introduced in Parliament. This may be a oppertunity for the party to get their first taste of power in Westminster - the last time a Liberal party was in government was 1914.
Their policies are more likely to be introduced in a coalition with Labour but it depends on the issue. Proportional Representation is unlikely to be introduced but their issue about allowing people to earn the first £10,000 of their income tax free may be adopted by Labour in a coalition.
The decision will have to be made by Nick Clegg if the outcome of the next election is a hung Parliament.
On the other hand it might reduce their appeal. Once a party has been in power it has been shown how constrained government it. They have to back track on election promises and cant fulfill. When in a coalition this would be even worse as they would not be the leading partnet. Instead they would be mostly supporting policies wanted by the main party in exchange for a few core lib dem policies. If they are not percieved as getting enough support for them may fall.
The Liberal Democrats are a different party than Labour or the Conservatives
According to the leader of the Liberal Democrats, Nick Clegg the Liberal Democrats are a very different party from Labour and the Conservatives. Support for the party amongst voters has grown over the years, many people are fed up with the other two parties.
In an article for the Times, Mr Clegg outlines a few ways in which the Liberal Democrats differ from Labour and the Conservatives. One way is that the party wants to ensure that the first £10,000 that a person earns is tax free. Another is to introduce a fair voting system so that voters can sack MPs who have broken the rules.
It would be very unlikely that the Liberal Democrats would make a deal with the Conservatives but a deal with Labour might take place. In both Scotland and Wales, the Liberal Democrats formed colitions with Labour (and in the case of Wales the Green party). This worked well for a time but eventually the coalitions fell apart.
Relations are not good between the Liberal Democrats and the two main political parties
Until recently, Labour and the Conservatives have not taken the Liberal Democrats seriously. But, as it becomes more likely that the next general election will result in a hung Parliament, both have tried to gain support from the Liberal Democrats.
Despite overlapping with the Conservatives in some policy areas, the party are unlikely to give their support to them. Realtions are poor between the two party leaders, Nick Clegg and David Cameron. However, the party does not want to be seen as the reason for Gordon Brown remaining in office.
One major party member was quoted as stating that "a lot of see the Labour as the competition and the Conservatives as the oppostion."
If Nick Clegg does decide to do a deal with either the Labour or the Conservatives he will need to gain widespread support from his party.
A hung Parliament probably will not occur
The possibilty of a hung Parliament is very slim under the electoral system. Coaltions have generally not be formed at Westminister.
The likely outcome of the next general election will be a Conservative outcome - not with the landslide victory that Labour got in 1997 but with a majority.
What do you think?