Brown to go

The Telegraph reports:

On a day of high political drama, Mr Brown seized on David Cameron’s failure to secure a pact with Nick Clegg by opening formal talks to agree a so-called “coalition of losers”.

In a surprise announcement, the Prime Minister offered to oversee talks between the two parties before stepping down by the time of the Labour conference in September, when a new leader would be chosen by party members. …

If accepted, the proposal would mean Mr Brown remaining in Downing Street for another five months and voters being presented with a second unelected prime minister in a row.

It would be quite remarkable if the Prime Minister turns out to be someone who wasn’t even a party leader at the election. It rather undermines the notion of informed consent by voters.

Of course it is not unusual for leaders and PMs to change mid-term. This is how Geoffrey Palmer and Jenny Shipley became PM. But I can’t recall an occasion when a person becomes PM pretty much straight after the election, despite not being the party leader who contested it.

This puts some pressure on the Conservatives. Either they make a better deal to the Lib Dems, or they remain in Opposition, and hope they can bring the Government down quickly.

The Lib Dems have a risky decision to make also. If they go with Labour, because of a better deal on electoral reform, they will be desperately hoping the Government lasts long enough to allow for an electoral reform proposal to be agreed on, drawn up in detail, and put to the public in a referendum. This could well take 18 months or longer.

If they shut the Conservatives out, then they will do everything they can to bring the Government down early, and in a second election could well win a majority which means the Lib Dems lose the chance of any electoral reform at all.

To some degree it is a bit like the old saying about a bird in the hand vs two in the bush. The Conservatives and Lib Dems combined can definitely remain in Govt and implement any deal on electoral reform – even if it is only preferential voting (which will help the Lib Dems in many seats). However Labour is obviously willing to offer “two birds” electoral reform which may be something in between SM and MMP. But it is less likely they can pass it into law, as they will not have a majority.

It will be fascinating to see what happens. My money is still (literally) on David Cameron becoming PM, but I note the share price for this has dropped from 92c to 86c.

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