This is an early post. Events today in Britain might make it obsolete by nightfall.
The developments last night have naturally produced a wide spectrum of responses. This is the one which most closely reflects mine:- Brown's shameless move tonight will stun the millions of voters who had expected him out pronto. The Lib Dems will look dreadful for entering talks to keep him in for the four months he craves. If Clegg is willing to enter "formal discussions" to make this Brown's voter-defying act possible, then he has brought discredit to himself and his party. Tonight's extraordinary events could strengthen Cameron's hand. It is Clegg who is aiding and abetting this lunacy.
So, is this from the right-of-centre Daily Telegraph? No, it’s not. The centrist Times? No. It’s actually from the left-of-centre, LibDems-supporting Guardian.
Perhaps the writer feels, as I do, that the inexperienced and possibly naïve Nick Clegg has been high-jacked by the formidable New Labour machine and now finds himself between a rock and a hard place. One thing’s for sure – he’s never going to be able to claim to be a man of principle ever again. But maybe he won’t care as long as his party gets what it’s long been denied. At least for a month or six.
Meanwhile, it’s encouraging - impressive even - to see some Labour MPs distancing themselves from an expedient, neck-saving deal which they know many of the voters – possibly most of them – will see both as shabby and, worse, unstable. And hugely at odds with the pious sentiments being expressed by Gordon Brown about a government that will be able to address the UK's challenges.
As I wrote yesterday, events may well redound to the eventual benefit of the Conservative Party. Or, as Andrew Gilligan writes - A Lib-Lab coalition would be democratically preposterous, defying the laws of political gravity. But for that very reason it could, in the medium term, be the best possible outcome for the Tories. It would be losers propping up losers. It would be hugely difficult to keep together, lacking a majority of its own and requiring life-support from various nationalist parties. It would be vulnerable to all sorts of unsavoury Celtic blackmail, enraging the already long-suffering English (whose own voting intentions were very clear.)
Last quote - The voters wanted a “new kind of politics”. Well, now they have got it. Though it’s almost certainly not what they expected. Or really wanted, I venture to say.
Such is politics. In which a week is a (very) long time, of course. Roll on the rest of this one.
Bottom line – The Conservative Party is now in a no-lose situation. Either they get a deal with the LibDems now or - possibly better for them - they get a real majority at the inevitable second election in a few months’ time.
Perhaps the New Labour team isn’t as clever as I thought it was.
Meanwhile, bugger the voters.
Fascinating, if depressing.