The path to a people's parliament

Just over two weeks ago, I sat in the LBC 97.3 studios in Leicester Square being told by the very jolly Tory Bear that the Lib Dems were irrelevant!  Well, not so irrelevant now, are they Mr Bear?!!

That was at the height of Tory complacency about the election, the night before the first debate after which it became clear to everyone that Nick Clegg and the Lib Dems if given a fair hearing are a force to be reckoned with.

There is so much excitement about the new politics.  There is, at the moment a feeling that everything could all be about to change, that the two party duopoly has gone for good.

Of course, the desire for a more representative parliament delivered through a proportional voting system isn't the sole preserve of Liberal Democrats; there are Labour, Green and even a few Tory supporters that believe in it.  But the path to such a people's parliament will be a long one and we will all have to adapt the way we do politics to it.

Balanced parliament means political parties have work together; so we are going to have to set aside our tribal loyalties, learn to breath without our nose pegs and be prepared to talk to anybody. Yes, even Tories perhaps or maybe even Gordon Brown (breathe 1, 3, 3 ,4, breathe, 1,2,3,4..scary thought, I know)

Balanced parliaments and coalitions are about creating outcomes, not throwing your toys out of the pram because you can't bear the idea of your political enemies benefiting in any way.

So, allow Nick, who has done us all so proud in the last few weeks to do his stuff.  Don't tell him now what he can and can't do a deal with; don't tell him who he should and shouldn't talk to. 

And stop going on about the triple lock! Crikey, I like the fact that the Liberal Democrats are a democratic party as much as the next Lib Dem but it is only a fall back position. For it to be invoked there would have to be a massive split in the parliamentary party and I think it's highly unlikely that there will be a split in the parliamentary party around who to talk to in the event of a parliament with no overall majority.

Any political geek who thinks she or he's going to have a direct influence on any coalition agreements is, well, over-egging their part in the pudding.

Every leader has to take his (or hopefully one day, her) party with them when negotiating with other parties.  The triple lock is just a formalisation of what all three of the Leaders will have to do.  Neither Cameron or Brown would be able to get very far without the support of their parliamentary party.

After all, have you not noticed that Nick has already set out what the terms of negotiation will be via his four priorities?

He's set out the terms of any negotiations and set the red line which cannot be crossed of electoral reform as his backstop. 

Not one of us knows what the electoral map and mathematics are going to look like come May 7th, so stop speculating and let Nick get on with what he is doing brilliantly: holding his and the party's nerve for another week!

Go Nick!!




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