May 11 2010
The Tories hadn’t won & there was need for Brown to step aside
I’ve made this point before but Gord had all the cards in his hand on May 7th 2010. The Tories had failed to win a majority and there was no obligation on him to go to the palace and recommend to the Queen that Cameron should be invited to form a government.
It is this central constitional fact that the “Dave should have gone for a minority government” faction ignores.
The main pressure on Brown was to get some sort of arrangement in place before the Queen’s speech due a week and a half later.
If Cameron had not made his offer to the LDs and had tried to hang on for a minority government the blues would have been pushed out of the picture.
Instead there would have been intensive discussions between LAB and the LDs in which it became clear that there would be no support for Labour to continue in power while Brown was still at the helm.
This would have led, however reluctantly, to Gordon agreeing to step aside maybe after a leadership contest to find a successor had been completed. The LDs would have won some concessions perhaps to allow a supply and confidence arrangement to be agreed. The Queen’s Speech would have been approved by the new Commons.
That government would have struggled on for a few months because the numbers were extraordinarily tight. Brown’s successor, probably David Miliband, would have gone to the country in October 2010.
The point, of course, is that in May 2010 the chances are Cameron would never have had the option of pursuing a Conservative minority government.
It was only because of the coalition deal on Tuesday May 11th 2010 that Brown had to go to the palace to advise Her Majesty that Mr. Cameron be asked to form a government.