Clegg under pressure to avoid deal with Tories

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Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg is facing criticism from many party supporters over the increasing likelihood….

Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg is facing criticism from many party supporters over the increasing likelihood that he may agree to prop up a new Conservative government.

Supporters North and South of the border are unhappy that the Tories, a party many Lib Dems entered politics to fight, will effectively benefit from the votes of those same Lib Dem supporters.

One part supporter said:
“The idea of any deal with the Tories makes my blood run cold. These are the people I came into politics to fight.”

There is a growing feeling that the Lib Dem leader ought to do more in order to try to forge a so called ‘rainbow alliance’ with Labour, an alliance that would also include the Scottish and Welsh national parties.  Mr Clegg is reported to have held talks with Labour leader Gordon Brown on Sunday, a move that was welcomed by senior Lib Dem figures who feel that it will at least strengthen his hand in negotiations with the Conservatives.

SNP leader and Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond has already publicly offered support to Labour in order to achieve such an alliance.  Lib Dem Treasury spokesman Vince Cable has also acknowledged that such a progressive coalition is still a possibility.

In Scotland a pact with the Tories will be viewed as electoral suicide for the Lib Dems.  Scotland overwhelmingly rejected the Conservatives at the ballot box last Thursday, a result that left the Tory party with only one Scottish seat.  Moreover, the Lib Dems and the Tories attracted a much lower percentage of the vote in Scotland than in England, both finishing behind Labour and the SNP.  Their combined vote share of 35.6% was just over one third of the Scottish vote.

Whatever the outcome of any talks, it is clear that Lib Dem supporters are demanding a referendum on electoral reform, with PR being an option, at the very least.  A failure to achieve this most basic of Lib Dem aims will seriously undermine Nick Clegg’s leadership and may even lead to the destruction of the party.

Meanwhile, Gordon Brown’s days as PM and leader of the Labour party appear numbered after senior figures urged him to resign.  Mr Brown is believed to have been advised by those closest to him that stepping down is the only option.  It is thought that the plan would be for him to stay on as interim leader whilst a new leader is chosen.  It would also leave open the possibility of a deal with the Lib Dems should negotiations with the Conservatives fail.