Found in the gutter
Goodness knows how Clegg will wriggle out of this one. Cam has made it quite clear PR is not on offer, and Clegg knows it. But he also knows it is the number one demand of his revolting LD activists.
So WTF is he going to do?
Press on regardless? Bust out of the LDs' so-called triple lock and ignore his activists?
They wouldn't like that one little bit. It could easily splinter his party, with the lefty hippies tripping off to the Greens, and the Orange Book suits jumping overboard to rejoin all those other SDP suits deserting the sinking Labour party.
Put his foot down with Cam? Insist on PR, or the whole deal's off?
But that kind of hissy fit at a time of National crisis would look terrible with all those decent hard-working punters who voted for him. The ones who believed all his assurances about continental-style consensus politics and the saintly rationality of coalition government.
So what about propping up dying terminally unpopular Labour?
Talk sense, will you.
No, the best thing for Clegg will be to step back and keep his political virginity intact. Tell activists and voters alike that he will always support Cam where he acts in the national interest. But he will not join a formal coalition because he will not compromise on fairness in the electoral system.
So it's another election pdq, the only question being whether it's next October or next March.
What about PR then? There's no doubt our current first-past-the-post system is very unfair, but we have no confidence that coalition government could possibly deliver the kind of fiscal squeeze we must have.
Yes, we know the Germans have stable coalition governments, and yes we know they have in the past proved capable of fiscal retrenchment. But (a) we're not Germans, and our Westminster politicos have no experience of coalition government. And (b) Germany is a federal country with a high degree of fiscal decentralisation. Which means that much of the unpopularity of spending cuts and tax rises can be delegated down to state and local politicians. Just like happened in Canada in the 1990s - another federal country.
And when it comes to the LDs stepping up to the spending cuts plate, we just need to remind ourselves of the party's official advice to their local councillors:
"Oppose all service cuts ... No cut is going to be popular and why court the unpopularity that goes with the responsibility of power?" (see this blog).Having guys like that anywhere near the fiscal controls will have us smashing into a Greek mountainside in 10 seconds flat.
PS And another thing... I know winners are supposed to be gracious in victory, but our local LDs really are gutter politicians (see this blog). When they noticed Tyler Towers had erected a Tory election poster facing the road , they came along one night and stole it. Just like that. They pulled into Tyler's drive, trespassed on the Tyler Estate and committed a criminal act. Moreover, ours was one of many such LD crimes right across the constituency, including a Tory council candidate getting a long scratch down the side of his car. Frankly, poor naive Tyler was shocked. So much so that the Major and "his people" are now planning to "even things up a bit" in the forthcoming October election.