Thursday, February 05, 2015

So could Clegg be PM after the election?

Well yes, for a few days, is the broad theme of a Huffington Post "exclusive" today.  The piece is an interview with former Lib Dem Defence minister Nick Harvey, who speculates that if David Cameron decided to resign as Conservative leader following a poor showing in the election, a hung parliament could result in coalition negotiations taking place with Nick Clegg holding the fort as interim Prime Minister.  Far-fetched?  Absolutely.  And we still have three months or so of wild speculation making headlines as news 'fact'.

The problem for Clegg, anyway, seems to lie closer to home.  I've always maintained that if disillusioned Lib Dem voters voted Labour, as a protest against the Lib Dems' willingness to be in coalition with the Conservatives, then many of their seats would actually fall not to Labour but to the Conservatives, from whom the incumbent MPs took the setas in the first place.  Clegg's Sheffield Hallam seat is one example - once a Tory stronghold, he seized it from them in 2005.  However, a Survation poll of the seat, reported on Labourlist, puts Labour ahead of Clegg in that seat.  If there is a momentum towards the Labour candidate there, then it certainly seems likely that the anti-coalition vote might be able to coalesce around him to the extent that it takes the seat and deprives Clegg of any further involvement in negotiating new coalitions.  Nevertheless, it is still worth remembering that the seat is a prosperous, and actually quite rural one; certainly not natural Labour territory under a left-wing leader.  I wouldn't write off either Clegg or the Tories just yet.

CORRECTION: I have said in the post above that Nick Clegg won the Hallam seat in 2005 from the Tories.  In fact, he succeeded Liberal Democrat MP Richard Allan, who won it off the Tories in the meltdown of 1997.

Nick Clegg has also now gone on record to ridicule the Survation poll findings.

  

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