What is the effect of a hung parliament? Constitutional reform is the objective of everyone except the Tories. But the problem is that there will be a coalition government in the coming months. If the Lib Dems and the Tories combine in a coalition and there is a referendum on electoral reform, then the Tories cannot claim that coalitions will not work if they are in one. They need to avoid that trap. So Ken Clarke claims (this evening) that if the UK adopts another electoral system, then uncertainty like that we are experiencing now will happen after every election. This is the beginning of the Tory spin, which is part of their forcing a coalition on Labour, the Lib Dems and other minority parties. But it is in the interests of member of a minor party and every member of a party that may not be in the majority in the future to reform the electoral system. The Conservatives are in retreat (probably for good reasons arising from their electoral and parliamentary base). But that does not solve the problem. The problem is solved by a LibDem-Labour coalition.
13 May 2010: Okay, so I got this one wrong. But isn’t Ken Clarke now in an interesting position?? Maybe the referendum on AV should take place later rather than sooner in the new Parliament–perhaps preceded by Lord Reform. As David Cameron said yesterday, ‘We’re all going to have things thrown back at us.’ Strident statements concerning constitutional reform will not be de rigueur in the new parliament.