Watching the debates, and thinking about how Vince Cable stands no chance of being Chancellor after the election led me to think about the following:
Would a hung Parliament lead to the end of the Liberal Democrats?
I admit, this is a potentially ridiculous idea, and I expect some comments telling me just this, but let me outline my thoughts.
Accept first that there is a hung Parliament, and either Labour or the Conservatives decide to form a coalition rather than run as a minority government.
Next, this coalition government passes legislation to impose proportional representation on Westminster elections, which was part of the agreement of the Liberal Democrats joining the government.
Looking at current polls, ‘others’ are polling anywhere between 21% and 12%. In the same polls, the Liberal Democrats have polled between 12% and 18%, and while they obviously have party organisation to help get voters out, it’s not unrealistic to assume that MPs from ‘others’ would be of a similar number to those of the Liberal Democrats.
Obviously the next leap depends very much on which parties get MPs elected, but the latest breakdown I can find is as follows: SNP 2%: PC 1%: UKIP 5%: BNP 4%: GRN 3%.
No party would ever work with the BNP, and again I don’t see the SNP joining a government in Westminster, but could UKIP and the Green Party offer an alternative. UKIP could, I imagine, be persuaded to join a Conservative government for most votes, while Plaid Cymru and the Greens have worked with Labour and may be prepared to lend some support to boost either a minority or majority government.
Either way, the role of Liberal Democrats as potential Kingmakers is heavily diluted, as independents and smaller parties gain representation and offer an alternative coalition partner.
I’m aware that this contains a lot of ‘ifs’, and that even if the two original assumptions come true, anything could happen during the next Parliament, but there certainly seems to be an underlying point which is that as a party, they are unlikely to be propelled towards government by such reforms, and stand the chance of becoming one of a number of minor parties.
Ridiculous? Possibly. But perhaps Liberal Democrats are sowing the seeds of their downfall.