Sky pilot Lib Dem Leader, Nick Clegg, is likely to break up on re-entry to earth’s atmosphere following the May 2015 General Election.
With the party’s abject performance in the recent by election at Rochester and Strood, taking 0.9% of the vote and losing its deposit for the eleventh time in this term, Mr Clegg is floating the idea of a pro-Europe three-way coalition after the General Election – between Labour, the Liberal Democrats and the SNP.
There are now two proscriptions on coalition – the SNP, according to First Minister Nicola Sturgeon will ‘never ever’ go into coalition with ‘The Tories’ – although she and Alex Salmond were very glad to work with the support of ‘The Tories’ at Holyrood throughout their 2007-2011 minority administration.
And Nick Clegg will ‘never sit around a cabinet table with Nigel Farage’ – still sore that he himself gave Mr Farage an almighty blast of the ‘oxygen of publicity’ when he went into a series of televised debates with the UKIP leader and was promptly seen off the park by a clearly more capable politician.
The Lib Dem dream of clawing back onto the periphery of power – despite losing deposits all over the country and certain to lose seats in the General Elections, ignores some key scenarios and may be a tad light on the maths and the realities.
There would be something fully sado-masochistic were Labour to be eaten alive in Scotland by the SNP in the General Election, yet be willing to take them into its embrace, giving them nationwide status in government, after the mauling.
The Lib Dem’s would also have to be willing to accept the same delicions pain if they were to be part of such an arrangement, because they too are likely to lose some Scottish seats to the SNP. Indeed, many endangered Lib Dem MPs in Scottish seats will this morning not thank Mr Clegg for his expressed willingness, as leader of a pro-union party, to embrace the separatist SNP. This can only prove another electoral own goal.
How would the sums add up in Cleggo’s lego mock up of the House of Commons at the end of May 205?
The SNP, with the following wind of a mighty new paid-up membership and a new First Minister, will take some seats from both Labour and the Lib Dems.
There is only one current Conservative seat in Scotland, which David Mundell is likely to retain – but either way, one seat is neither here nor there, other than in symbolic presence or lack of it.
The Conservatives may now have an opportunity to go hard for some seats where they might be in contention as the beneficiaries of pro-union vote transfers, following Nick Clegg ‘s now declared willingness to join forces with the SNP in Westminster. The Scottish Conservative Leader, Ruth Davidson, was by a long way the most effectively persuasive pro-union voice in Scotland – and was well received by young audiences.
There is a finite number of Scottish seats. Take out the Conservatives as unlikely to make much of a new mark [although with Labour’s loss of identity and momentum, we predict that there will be revival of the Conservative vote in Scotland, over the next decade.
That leaves Labour, the SNP and the Liberal Dem0crats.
If these three were to collaborate in a post election coalition at Westminster, it would not matter how many seats any one of them lost to the other two in Scotland. The collective number of seats they would hold here would remain the same. There are no other serious predators.
The question would come down to how Labour and the Liberal Democrats fared in England and Wales.
And that is where UKIP comes in.
UKIP is likely to take more seats from the Conservatives but Labour has vulnerable constituencies on the east coast and perhaps in the midlands.
The Liberal Democrats are becoming the also-rans – and are damaged by being mired in the most serious possible sexual scandal, where the party is now known to have disguised and suppressed their former party heavyweight, Rochdale’s Cyril Smith’s persistent predation on young boys in vulnerable circumstances – a personal practice which was known to the party hierarchy.
The taint of such indefensible values – in the conscious betrayal, for political ends, of the most vulnerable of children ,in the worst of circumstances and to the most dreadful abuse – will make many decent folk simply recoil from the Lib Dems – and so they should.
Then there is The Groper’s revenge
Today has also seen another one-man double whammy damage to the Lib Dems, in what can only be described as ‘The Groper’s revenge’.
Lord Rennard, The Lib Dem’s former election campaign supremo who was suspended from the party in the wake of allegations of serial groping – and readmitted following a very belated apology to the women upon whom he had pressed his attentions, has always – regardless of this conduct – seen himself as badly treated – and by Mr Clegg.
His anger may well in part be due to his Leader’s about-turn stance on the matter. Mr Clegg allegedly has knowledge of Rennard’s behaviour but had chosen to keep it quiet – until the matter became public knowledge, at which familiar point it became completely unacceptable.
So following the electoral disaster at Rochester and Strood, today the pop-up groper reminded the nation of his existence and of his unwelcome activities by making headlines in declaring that, in his view, it is questionable whether the Lib Dems may still properly be regarded as a major party. He has a point – but not one that can fairly be validated – or rejected – until after the coming General Election.
The pro-union vote will now, thanks to its own leader, also have reason to treat the party with suspicion. The Lib Dem prospects are not good. The party will lose seats in England and Wales and not only to UKIP.
In our view the Conservatives are likely to emerge from the election with the greatest number of seats of any party – because the economy has been stabilised and moved into recovery in their hands – and that, as the primary determinant of a country’s viability, is always the key deciding factor at major elections. Labour’s catastrophic failure to regulate the financial sector remains in the pubic consciousness as a negative counterweight.
As the largest party and without an overall majority – the Conservatives might choose to govern as a minority administration – a position which, by necessity, usefully removes from the agenda measures born from over-dogmatic stances.
They could also, quite conceivably, make composition with their erstwhile coalition partners, the LibDems [who would gladly accept] – and with the Northern Ireland unionists. It is not inconceivable that both the Conservatives and UKIP could accept cohabitation in government.
As the largest party, if, as we predict, that is what they are at the end of the election, the Conservatives will have options, with the choice made according to the relative strengths of their various potential partners.
They would not offer – and we all know that the SNP would ‘never ever’ accept, an invitation to the nationalists to join them.
Labour could not credibly afford to embrace the SNP in coalition – with the all-out war between the two in Scotland and with the deep division between unionism and separatism. These are identifiers so visceral as to resist pragmatic partnership.
The probability, however the various predations and failures play out, is that the SNP group at Westminster, whatever size it is, will be a standalone ginger group, free of responsibility and equally free to pick whatever targets are of greatest advantage regardless of their political party origins.
Beyond an informal agreement of support on a case by case basis in exchange for adding some items to a government agenda, it is beyond fantasy to imagine that any party could invite the SNP into coalition at Westminster, or that the SNP would actually want to be a part of the government of a United Kingdom from which it is more determined than ever to depart at the first available opportunity.
They would be seen as – and could actually be – a fifth column en plein air. Any party choosing to put them in such a position would have an electoral price to pay.
Only Nick Clegg could fail to see the obvious in this.