Wednesday, 21 April 2010

Election: The rise and rise of Clegg.

Nearly a week has gone since the last debate and before the next one tomorrow one thing seems clear from the first debate, it was a massive win for Clegg, bigger than anyone predicted. Not big enough to put him in Prime Minister territory, but big enough to make sure he has an influence on this election. The polls have gone from showing a conservative majority or at least most seats, to showing a hung parliament with Labour having the most seats. This might seem pretty weird considering Labour have slipped into third place in many polls but it comes from the fact that whilst Lib Dems are gaining seats they are taking more from the Tories and the Tories aren't taking any from Labour. Its because of our voting system that Lib Dems could easily get the most votes yet still have less than half the seats that the other two parties have. But it is important for the Lib Dems to get as many seats as possible, the more they have the more power they have in trying to push through electoral reform, which could even up the system in the Liberals favour.

So how have the leaders responded to this massive upheaval? Cameron's tried to stress the damage that a hung parliament would have on the country, warning that we might need IMF payouts like we did in the '70's. Brown has tried to put pressure on certain Lib Dem proposals to highlight the weaknesses, but stayed away from the talk of the danger of a hung parliament, whilst obviously maintaining that a Labour majority would be the best outcome. Nick Clegg has just tried to keep himself from smiling too much, and who can blame him. His win certainly sent the right-wing papers into a state of frenzy and ridiculous accusations, he must have touched a nerve.

I think the idea that a hung parliament would be disastrous is simply scare-mongering, it may not be ideal, but it could well pave the way for electoral reform which will get us out of this FPTP system. A lot of people like the idea of hung parliament, it seems to be a shift away from the top-down approach and means the parties will actually have to work together. It's frustrating when perfectly valid ideas can't be looked at because they come from a party outside the government. Other places in the world manage perfectly well with coalition governments and if it doesn't work out, we'll just do the whole thing over again.

I'm still a Labour man, but I've got to admit, the idea of a Lib-Lab coalition is quite appealing. I've always thought the Liberals had some good ideas but just lacked in others. Hopefully, some of the better ideas could be used as leverage to get government bills through.

Nick Clegg did exactly what he needed to the other night. Before the debate the Lib Dem's were the party that had a great chancellor in Vince Cable but nothing else. Now they've got a leader to match. Let's just see if they can keep the momentum going through these next two debates and actually get people put an X next to them on polling day.

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