By the time you read this the result of the post election coalition talks in the UK will almost certainly be known. At time of posting the momentum towards a Tory / Lib Dem coalition seems just about unstoppable. A steady stream of positive announcements and minor leaks all point to a form of deal which some are calling “supply and confidence plus”. As always, you can follow The Guardian’s excellent blow by blow account here.
The Lib Dems have been caught out by a classic case of “be careful what you wish for”. They finally got the balance of power they wanted, but it was a poisoned chalice. The Tories and their tabloid press seem to have been successful in pushing the idea that a coalition with Labour, despite its constitutional legitimacy (and combined 52% vote share), would have been morally illegitimate, because the Tories were the largest single party (36%). (I thought Chris Trotter was being too cynical, but perhaps not). Fascinating to see this play out as an echo of what could have happened in NZ had a Labour / Green / Maori coalition been possible in 2008.
This deal will be seen as a betrayal of trust by many Lib Dem MPs, supporters and voters. The only way the party will survive is if they managed to secure real commitment to real electoral reform as the price of their support. That will be one silver lining to take from the clouds of an otherwise dismal election outcome.
[Update: Gordon Brown is expected to make an announcement shortly offering his resignation as prime minister once the financial crisis in Europe has stabilised. Too late Gordon, too little too late…]