David Blackburn

The developing picture

The developing picture
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The emnity between Labour and the SNP is legendary. Scenting opportunity, Angus Robertson has tried to appeal to Labour's progressive instincts and substantial Scottish support to secure protection from cuts. John Reid and David Blunkett have talked sense about the damage a dalliance with nationalists would do to Labour's English position. Now Douglas Alexander has said that he can't envisage an deal with the SNP. This adds to the growing sense that the grand coalition will never form - a minority Lib-Lab coalition remains a possibility but an increasingly unlikely one.

Boris has it right. This is the lurid politics of proportional representational laid bare. Michael Portillo and Malcolm Rifkind have argued that Lib-Con coalition is now permanently compromised but Clegg's cynical attempt to force the issue by opening public talks with Labour. A coalition cannot thrive without trust and responsibility. Clegg has proved that either he or a dominant force within his party are untrustworthy and will play politics with the nation's very delicate future. The Tories are playing an adept game, saying that's its decision time for Clegg, who has dumped himself in the most unenviable position. The temptation to adopt the UKIP line and say 'sod-off' is overwhelming; but in reality, only a Tory-Lib deal can provide the stable government required in the immediate term.