Wednesday, June 2, 2010

The Lib Dems

Trouble may be brewing because a ComRes poll for The Independent (Webpage, posted today) found that public opinion is not quite happy with the power-sharing deal between the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats. By a margin of more than two to one – 65% to 29% – they agreed that it was "difficult to know what the Liberal Democrats stand for" following their entry into the coalition. The sentiment was shared by 56% of those who voted Liberal Democrat in last month's UK general election.

There are ominous signs that Nick Clegg's party is suffering a backlash from its decision to go into office with the Tories. Only 78% of people who voted Liberal Democrat last month said they would vote the same way if another election was held tomorrow; 17% said they would support Labor instead.

But there was overwhelming support for the suggestion that first-past-the-post voting for Westminster should be replaced by a "system that reflects more accurately the proportion of votes cast for each party", with 78% agreeing and just 18% disagreeing. Voters of all political persuasions backed the change, with 88% of Liberal Democrat supporters, 83% of Labor voters and 71% of Tory votes agreeing.

Still why should Lib Dems get their way? The Conservatives and Labor parties have long resisted proportional representation simply because they are the main beneficiaries of the present undemocratic but pragmatic arrangements.

Will Clegg (left) insist? And if the Tories dilly-dally on this electoral reform or worse, refuse to give in, what then? Will the Lib Dems walk out? If Clegg has the courage to give the marching orders, then the government will surely collapse, and a new election will be called.

I think we can expect British politics to become more convoluted by the day…

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