This has been an election of losers. David Cameron failed to seal the deal and Gordon Brown has seen Labour lose over 90 seats. The biggest losers however are the LibDems. Yet while the high hopes of Cleggmania have taken a very hard knock, they still have a chance to clutch victory from defeat.
During the campaign Clegg made some very unwise pronouncements – about not dealing with Gordon Brown and how the party that won the most Commons seats and most votes should be given the chance to govern. The logic of what Clegg said means that the LibDems now have apparently no option but to rebuff any overtures from Labour and support the Conservatives who will not deal with Gordon Brown. Maybe Clegg will decide his personal credibility rests on living up to his words. Maybe his fellow MPs will decide otherwise when they meet on Saturday.
For – poorly though they performed on May 6th – the LibDems have a once-in-a-generation chance to get electoral reform – and the only party offering that at the moment is Gordon Brown’s Labour party. As projections stand Labour and the LibDems together still fall short of a Commons majority – but one wonders how the SNP and Plaid look upon a return of the Conservatives to power.
The Daily Mail and the Sun will all scream that Cameron has won. He hasn’t. No-one won the 2010 election. But do the LibDems have the political fortitude to ensure they win the post-election campaign? It will be an interesting meeting on Saturday.
Professor Steven Fielding