Nick Clegg, Not Voters, Could Decide The Result Of This Election

By Jonathan Walker on Apr 26, 10 04:18 PM in Politics

How confident are the Tories in winning an overall majority in the House of Commons?

Put it this way - their theme for the day is the danger of a hung Parliament. In other words, they're not very confident at all.

And they have launched a spoof party election broadcast warning how awful life would be under the "hung Parliament party", which seems at odds with their claim to be running a positive campaign.

But Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg hasn't done himself any favours either.

He's warned he would not prop up a Labour Government if Labour comes third in the polls - but won't say what he'll do if Labour comes second, with the Tories getting the most votes.

It sounds a lot like he's willing to keep Labour in power even if the Conservatives come first in the polls.

Not that anyone can say for certain. We can only guess.

To complicate matters, he's also hinted that he might do a deal with Labour after all - even if they come third - if only they are willing to get rid of Gordon Brown.

Mr Clegg said: "I think, if Labour do come third in terms of the number of votes cast, then people would find it inexplicable that Gordon Brown himself could carry on as Prime Minister, which is what the old convention would dictate."

He went on: "As for who I'd work with, I've been very clear - much clearer than David Cameron and Gordon Brown - that I will work with anyone, I will work with a man from the moon, I don't care, with anyone who can deliver the greater fairness that I think people want."

So it's "anyone" but not Gordon Brown. That would seem to leave the way open for Mr Clegg to back Alan Johnson, the Home Secretary, or David Miliband, the Defence Secretary.

You can't blame Mr Clegg for refusing to answer all these questions in more detail. When he talks about what he would do in a hung Parliament, he sounds arrogant, as if he is taking voters for granted.

If he refuses to answer questions, he sounds secretive. He's damned if he does and damned if he doesn't, through no fault of his own.

But his dilemma is caused by the uncomfortable reality that a hung Parliament would indeed usher in a new form of politics in Britain - a politics in which the Government is decided by deals made after the election rather than by how people vote.

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Jonathan Walker

Jonathan Walker - The Birmingham Post's political editor
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David Kuczora

David Kuczora - A PR consultant working in Birmingham and living in the 'burbs
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Alister Scott

Alister Scott - Professor of Spatial Planning and Governance, Birmingham City University
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