Lib Dem-Conservative coalition talks

Nick Clegg and the Liberal Democrats should reject David Cameron’s “big, open and comprehensive offer”, unless he offers unconditional electoral reform as the Liberal Democrats want. That is: single transferable vote, without any enquiries or referendum.

Enquiries and referenda are well established devices to deny change while holding out the false promise of reform.

The case for electoral reform is undeniable, except for those who profit from first past the post.  Liberal Democrats received 23% of the vote for 8% of the seats.  TheTories got 36.5% of the vote for 47% of the seats.  Look at the electoral map: the Conservatives remain the party of England and predominantly England south of the Trent.  We need a system that will ensure fair representation in Parliament and government for all the people and all the parts of the United Kingdom.  That is what the single transferable vote will provide.

The policies offered by Cameron could be implemented by the Conservatives anyway and do not require Liberal Democrat collusion, except to make up the numbers. But, one – the pupil premium – is dear to Nick Clegg’s heart and was his big iea in the leadership election. The temption must be huge, but he must resist. It would only apply to England and these negotiations are to form the government of the whole United Kingdom, not just its largest part.

What is at stake is fundamental reform for which the chance may not come again for another generation. Nick Clegg and his team must hold out for that and walk away if neither the Tories nor Labour will agree to the Lib Dems’ terms.

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