Politics - the way ahead
11 May 2010
There are two ways of deciding what is best for a 'stable and long-term government'.
The mathematical formula is clear: a Conservative - Lib Dem coalition would be much stronger than a Labour-Lib Dem pact. The latter would be vulnerable to a handful of rebel Labour or Lib Dem MPs or to demands from minor party supporters.
However the political formula may point the other way. A Conservative - Lib Dem coalition is much more likely to fall apart over policy differences and spending decisions than a Labour - Lib Dem government. It is a real stretch to see the Tories and Lib Dems agreeing on key areas such as Europe, defence, public spending and, not least, education policy.
Having said that, the electorate will not, I suspect, look kindly on Labour clinging to office, even without Gordon Brown (who has certainly done the right thing in saying he will resign).
If Labour supporters are to think of the long-term, they would be better off staying out of government. The next year or so will require unpopular decisions. The combination of this and having come second in the election, and having a leader who was not heading the party at the time of the election, would make them very unpopular and very vulnerable. They could eventually face a very long time out of office, like the COnservatives before them.
Labour would be better off re-establishing themselves under a new leader in opposition. And if David Cameron does offer a genuine deal on PR then, in view of the election result, he deserves the right to try to form a government.