Clegg: I won’t let Brown be ‘squatter in Downing Street’

LibDem leader Nick Clegg has taken steps to counter Tory warnings that if you vote Clegg, you get Brown. As the Daily Mail reports, Clegg “indicated that his price for supporting Labour in the event of a hung Parliament would be the Premier’s resignation.

“Foreign Secretary David Miliband is considered a likely alternative who would be acceptable to the Lib Dems, with Alan Johnson also said to be an option.”

A question for the readers: How common, in parliamentary systems with more experience with coalition or minority governments, is it for one party to state before an election that a potential post-electoral ally would have to change its leader? Quite unlikely, I would think.

9 thoughts on “Clegg: I won’t let Brown be ‘squatter in Downing Street’

  1. When Prime Minister of Australia Harold Holt suffered a diving accident in 1967 the Country Party, as it then was, declared it would not support William McMahon, a possible LIberal leader, as prime minister and the Liberals elected John Gorton instead.

  2. Didn’t something like this happen after the CDU-SDP tie election in Germany? SDP stayed in government but Schroeder had to go.

  3. No, in Germany’s case Angela Merkel’s CDU/CSU-SPD grand coalition government came about after the election, when it became clear that neither the Christian Democrats nor the Social Democrats could form majority coalition cabinets with their respective partners of choice (namely the Free Democrats and the Greens).

    Incidentally, the Daily Telegraph’s blogs – that’s right, the Torygraph’s – are now openly speculating about the possibility of an outright Liberal Democrat victory propelling Nick Clegg to No. 10 Downing Street, if he does well in tomorrow’s debate.

    Canada 1993 anyone?

  4. Perhaps the current situation in iraq, in regards to Sadrist opinions of Maliki, would fit the bill

  5. Am I the only one who thinks this could be a bad move for Clegg? In the last debate he benefited from Brown’s “I agree with Nick”. Now that a good LibDem showing would force Brown’s retirement, I doubt Brown will be quite so friendly in the next debate.

  6. When everybody is used to a two-party contest, the third one is always suspected to be a proxy for one of the established two: if the third party will be in the position to choose, whom of the big two will they help to power? In the UK: whom will LibDem support if no-one has a majority?

    The same problem haunts French centrists (Does MoDem hates UMP/Sarkozy more than the left if they have to choose?).

  7. Definitely not Canada 1993. Labour is still over 25%, not under 20.

    Labour is testing new lows though, just as Canada’s Liberals did in 2008.

    In any case, this election will likely have a false plurality or at least false party/seat ordering, and will highlight the flaws of FPTP.

    Even if Clegg ends up kingmaker, and PR a condition of coalition, I wouldn’t count on PR happening, since it’s still not in Tory and Labour interest,and those parties will have a majority of seats. There’s only so much revolution and devolution that can happen in the old country so quickly.

  8. Ross, it’s most definitely not Canada 1993 – for now: don’t forget that the Progressive Conservatives’ electoral collapse came about gradually over the course of a longer election campaign.

    To be certain, it’s hard to imagine Labour reduced to a 16% share of the vote like Canada’s Tories in ’93, but one should also remember that’s exactly what happened to Labour in last year European Parliament election in the U.K. – albeit on a low turnout, in a vote in which control of the national government was not at stake, and under a different electoral system as well (party list PR).

    That said, I agree with Matthew that the situation remains very fluid, and that a Canada 1993-style scenario is but one of many possibilities: in fact, I don’t entirely rule out the Tories attaining a small majority in the House of Commons come May 6 either, even though it doesn’t look very likely right now.

    By the way, I don’t rule out either a near-proportional seat distribution among the top three parties (as was the case between Labour and Conservatives in 1992); however, for that to happen the swings would have to fall in the right places for the right amounts, which also strikes me as less than likely to happen.

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