Brown steps down, Cameron and Clegg step up
There’s one thing that may be said of Nick Clegg’s willingness to talk to Labour: it allowed Labour to show Liberal Democrat MPs that a deal with the Tories is the only show in town worth buying a ticket for.
Once Labour MPs vowed to derail any plan to force through voting reform without a referendum and once John Reid, David Blunkett and Andy Burnham pointed out the absurdity of a “Loser’s Alliance” that, however constitutionally permissable, would mock the actual, you know, result of the election then even the most sawdust-brained Liberal Democrat MP could appreciate that this bird wouldn’t fly.
That leaves a proper deal with the Tories the only sensible option – an outcome that I suspect was Clegg’s preference all along. But he may now have been able to sell the idea to his party without having to make it a confidence motion in his own leadership or having to issue an ultimatum to his party. That leaves Clegg in a stronger position internally.
And, of course, by flirting with Labour Clegg was able to persuade the Tories to increase their offer on voting reform even though it became clear that Labour couldn’t possibly give Clegg any real assurances on voting reform themselves. This too makes it easier for Clegg internally.
This is all very smart maneuvering on the part of Clegg – so smart in fact, that he may just have about fooled everyone. Including Massie.
The fact is, nobody knew what the hell was going on yesterday. Why would Clegg turn to Labour? Could it really be the Scottish MP’s forcing his hand? Was there any sense in forming a “Loser’s Coalition” which everyone knew from the outset would be the case? Could the Liberal Democrats really be that afraid of being part of an unpopular governing coalition?
None of that added up. That it was all an elaborate ruse designed to soften the Tories, smoke out the designs of Labour, and force the hands of unwilling Lib-Dem MP’s is a much more likely scenario, and makes me think even more highly of Clegg than before. He may be the next Deputy Prime Minister, and he deserves the post I think.
Three cheers for David Cameron, though, who has reformed the Conservative Party in Britain in ways that are quite literally leaps and bounds ahead of the Republicans here in the United States. This is a conservative party I could easily support.