Today’s Independent notes that the UK coalition government has held “secret talks” aimed at boosting the chances of the Liberal Democratic candidate in an upcoming by-election.
It would not be a true pre-electoral coalition, as the Conservatives would keep their candidate in the race. However, it is possible that the larger party would quietly assist its smaller partner, out of fear that a LibDem defeat would increase the building consternation inside that party about the severe drubbing the party is receiving in opinion polls since entering coalition. Of course, any such tacit backing of their junior partner will cause dissent inside the Conservatives. Ah, the challenges of coalition politics under FPTP!
The by-election in question is necessary because of the retroactive disqualification of the Labour winner over campaign statements he made. He won the race by 103 votes over the LibDem, with the Conservative candidate 2,310 votes behind. So the most likely beneficiary of a failure of the coalition partners to coordinate would be a collective defeat at the hands of the Labour opposition.
If some degree of coordination occurs in the by-election, it could be the beginning of something deeper.
The Cabinet’s discussion will fuel speculation that Mr Cameron and Mr Clegg may seek to prolong the Coalition beyond the next general election. At a press conference on Tuesday, the Prime Minister left the door open to an electoral pact or anti-Labour tactical voting.
That still strikes me as unlikely, unless the Alternative Vote has been adopted following the May, 2011, referendum. But it is being discussed a bit more openly than before.
These certainly are interesting times in UK politics!