Could the party of “fair votes” support the vote losers?
One of the hardy annuals of Lib Dem conference week is that people start asking which way Clegg’s party would go in the event of a hung parliament and they held the balance of power. But is this totally irrelevant?
For the way the electoral mathematics work means that Labour would only need Lib Dem support for a commons majority if it came behind the Tories in terms of votes.
And how could Clegg’s party that’s called for “fair votes” for so long end up propping up the vote loser?
I’m sure that the electoral anoraks amongst us have spent many hours feeding hypothetical results into the calculators on Anthony Wells’s UK Polling Report and Martin Baxter’s Electoral Calculus. The one thing we all know is that the Tories need a much bigger percentage GB popular vote share to secure a commons majority than Labour.
In broad terms Labour gets a majority if it equals or betters the Tories in the national vote share. The Tories need a lead of 5-6% simply to come out top in terms of seats. For an overall majority the calculators suggest that a Tory vote lead of 8-9% or more is required.
So just about the only circumstrances in which Labour would need to rely on a pact are if the Tories are ahead on votes like in the example above.
Whatever is said now I don’t believe it would be politically possible for Clegg to enter into a deal with the party that lost on votes.
It follows therefore that the only foreseeable pact involving the Lib Dems would be with the Tories.