Please choose from one of the following options
Government tariff 1: Pray As You Go: Lib-Lab coalition (24 month contract)*
Hung Parliament. Tories are the largest party but Lib Dems poll well. Labour are nowhere. Tories manifestly do not want a Lib-Tory coalition and Cameron rules it out. He’s playing the long game. Clegg has to stick to his refusal to work with the leader who polled lowest, so has to wait for Labour to elect a new leader. The markets collapse. Mandelson and Balls go head to head. Mandy wins, one of the Milibae becomes leader. Clegg is PM, Miliband (D) Home Sec. Within a year they are more hated than Thatcher as a result of their failure to deliver anything in their manifestos. The only thing they do deliver was not in their manifestos: public sector cuts on a biblical scale.
Government tariff 2: Pray Monthly: Lib-Con coalition (12 month contract)*
Hung Parliament. Tories are the largest party polling better than most expected, around 315 seats. Lib Dems poll ok but not as well as some had thought they might, say around 80 seats. Labour are in meltdown. However, Brown won’t budge. Balls/Whelan brief wildly against everything and everyone except Brown staying or Balls taking over. Mandy gives up and heads for his yacht. Campbell goes back into rehab. Clegg realises that any association with this poisonous shower is political suicide and looks to Cameron; they strike a deal. Lib-Tory dream(!) ticket government, a ‘coalition of all the talents’, emergency budget within 50 days and electoral reform is quietly sidelined (Tory grass roots breathe sigh of relief). Cameron PM, Clegg Home Sec.
Government tariff 3: Flexi Time (no contract)*
Hung Parliament. Labour do much better than expected and come second. The Tories are the largest party but only just. This causes the Lib Dems and Tories to revaluate their positions. They retreat from their stand-offish hubristic positions, created by their prior assumptions about how well they would both poll and the inevitability of a Labour meltdown. Cameron is forced to concede some ground to the Lib Dems because they now have a genuine choice of coalition partners. They agree to an unofficial coalition in which the Lib Dems promise not to vote against Tory economic reforms and the Tories agree to a referendum on electoral reform. They are, of course, free to then campaign for a ‘No’ vote.
My money is on the latter. Much as I would like a Tory majority I can’t see it happening. The fact remains that most people want rid of Gordon Brown but do not actively want David Cameron. They like Nick Clegg but know he can’t be PM. A minority Tory government, for all of Cameron’s leadership skills, would, I fear, be weak, impotent, bad for the markets and ultimately damaging to the Tory brand. So if it is the Flexi Time option, I won’t be hurling myself in the road just yet.