“The exercise of a little power for a limited time with the ever-present danger of annihilation”. Me on the Lib Dems’ prospects in Coalition. In 2009.

by Stephen Tall on June 12, 2012

A chance Google search caused me to re-read one of my old blog-posts today, from March 2009 — That hoary old Hung Parliament chestnut — 14 months before the last general election and the formation of the first post-war Coalition government. Parts of it have aged badly, for instance:

… I have little doubt that party members would vote down any deal, unless it came with the promise of propertional representation as a package of reform measures – and that’s not going to be offered by either Labour or the Tories. … the really interesting hung Parliament scenario is not ‘who will the Lib Dems do a deal with’ (because the answer is no-one). No, the really interesting question is ‘what happens when the Lib Dems refuse to do a deal with anyone?’.

Other parts of it have, alas, aged slightly more prophetically:

Surely it’s not so very hard to see why the party and its leadership approaches the prospect [of a Hung Parliament] with caution rather than relish? After all, last time the third party propped up the government of the day under a first-past-the-post system (the Liberals in 1977-79), it didn’t exactly do wonders for our electoral standing. That’s not to say we shouldn’t as a party be anxious to get our hands dirty pulling the levers of power; but let’s be realistic about the risks, eh? The fear is a simple and potent one: seem to favour either Tories or Labour, and we split our own party and antagonise the voters of the party we didn’t pick. Net result to the Lib Dems: the exercise of a little power for a limited time with the ever-present danger of annihilation at the next election.