Alex Massie

Clegg Decapitates Brown And a Nightmare Looms

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So Gordon will go and the Labour party will elect a new leader in time, he hopes, for the Labour party conference this autumn.

The problem with a Lib-Lab coalition of course is that it won't have a majority. One can see how it could limp along but one cannot but think that while a single-party could soldier on as a majority matters would be much more problematic for a coalition minority. Nor does including the tiny parties strengthen matters much.

And so, playing Salome, Clegg has got Gordon's head on a platter and we now have the extraordinary sight of the Lib Dems negotiating with both parties at the same time. This is madness and invites the public to view the Lib Dems as a party of political hoors prepared to sell their services to the highest-bidder for nothing more than self-evidently narrow, selfish interests.

That's their choice but it reduces their seriousness and seems likely to leave Clegg open to the notion that he's no better, and perhaps worse, than any other politician. This invites all kinds of trouble for the Lib Dems at the next election.

Constitutionally there's no problem with having another "unelected" Prime Minister but having two in a row brought to power in such a fashion seems, politically at least, a rather different matter. And how on earth can Clegg agree to a coalition deal without knowing who the Prime Minister is going to be?

So what the hell is going on? Perhaps as Philip Stevens suggests this is simply a wrecking maneovre by Brown. Whatever else it is, however, it's not necessarily the kind of arrangment that is likely to leave voters more enthused about the idea of electoral reform.

All that's needed now is for the Orange Bookers to resign from the Lib Dems to join the Tories and the chaos will be complete.

I still can't quite believe that a Lib-Lab pact will work or be worn by the public. But, really, who can be confident about anything anymore?

Except this: the Lib Dems are in danger of over-reaching themselves. If they do so they are inviting trouble. And remember that things didn't end well for Salome either.

Written byAlex Massie

Alex Massie is Scotland Editor of The Spectator. He also writes a column for The Times and is a regular contributor to the Scottish Daily Mail, The Scotsman and other publications.