If you ever doubted the political affiliations of the daily newspaper that you read, today will have left you in no doubt. “Kick them out”, says The Mirror; “Don’t make a terrible mistake [and let in Labour]”, says the Telegraph; “You have to vote UKIP”, says the Daily Express… and so on and so on.
I’ve said from the very beginning that IF there is a hung Parliament – and you never know, the great British public could surprise every pollster and bring in a majority government – the most likely outcome would be Labour and the Liberal Democrats getting together. Nick Clegg is obviously batting both ways yet let’s not forget that there was nearly a Lib-Lab pact last time but Gordon Brown and a bit of backroom jiggery-pokery got in the way. Part of the deal may well be the jettisoning of Ed Balls but once that obstacle is removed, Cleggy could justify going with the party who wants to make “fairer” cuts.
The other possible coalition arrangements have all been done to death and David Cameron is still banging on about a Labour government “propped up by the SNP”. Nobody seriously believes that this will be the case; surely Ed Miliband can’t deny it 1,000 times and then go back on his word…?
No, the SNP will obviously win comprehensively in Scotland but their influence within English politics will be minimal. Similarly, UKIP will win many protest votes and give the election to Labour by splitting the right-wing vote, but their bargaining power – and any subsequent power – will be virtually zero.
There is only one thing in doubt this time around – who Nick Clegg will jump into bed with (for the Lib Dems will not suffer the wipe-out that has been predicted, or at least they shouldn’t). He has said that he will go with the party with most seats but then his various ‘red lines’ (they should really have been ‘yellow lines’ in the sand) have made it almost impossible for him to go with Cameron again. Who knows, maybe part of any new deal with the Tories would be the removal of Cameron – et tu Nicky?
Nobody knows, of course, until the final count but I see two possible scenarios and that is all – a Labour government “propped up” by the Lib Dems (who have actually performed pretty well in coalition, so credit where it’s due) or an outright majority. And this second scenario is a real possibility because let us not forget that a hung Parliament has been extremely rare in the past and to have two coalition governments one after the other would be quite surprising.
Given that one in four (25 per cent) of people who say they will vote are reckoned to be undecided, there is the very big possibility that the polls have merely been recording the status quo and that the poll that counts will have a completely different outcome.
Political affiliations aside, if Labour take over with the help of the Lib Dems the event should be recorded and noted: a government that is surrounded by good news on the economy, on jobs, on pay, on tax, on pensions – on the key things that matter to people – has been cast aside, its achievements meaning nothing. Clegg made a promise on tuition fees that he shouldn’t have (although the new set-up is a far better arrangement for so many students) and Cameron made a promise on immigration that he shouldn’t have. But look at the long list of positives that this coalition has achieved… the last government should not be consigned to the history books as a failure.