Tuesday, 11 May 2010

Tide turning towards the Tories

It's 3pm and the tide is turning again towards a Conservative and Lib Dem coalition. Lots of reasons why the topsy turvey talks are now coming back to where they started.

The Conservatives are, apparently, giving the Lib Dems virtually anything they demand - goodbye married couples tax break, hello tax break for people earning less than £10,000. Meanwhile too many in the Labour ranks think that a period of opposition is quite a good thing for them, and have undermined the Mandelson/Campbell/Adonis attempt to bring the Lib Dems aboard.

Andy Burnham, Jack Straw and others have called on Labour to "respect the results of the general election" and accept reality. You can't really describe that as Labour's oppositionalist instincts coming back to play after 13 years but I've spoken to plenty on the left who think this is a good time not to be in power. (They seem to have forgotten what 1979 heralded, 18 years of opposition, and are making a huge assumption that Labour could ever get back into power.)

With senior Labour figures torpedoing a possible deal they have denied the Lib Dems their best chance of transforming British politics.

The Lib Dems on the other hand, these Birkenstock traitors, will find themselves flossing the teeth of a Tory shark while being in office. It will be quite an uncomfortable place to be.

I dare say the hearts of many Lib Dems, many Scottish Lib Dems anyway, are not in this marriage, which might receive blessing in the next few hours. If it comes to pass and they'll find it hard to parrot their lines of loyalty in the days and weeks to come.

I've met at least one SNP MP this afternoon who was licking his lips at the prospect of a Tory/Lib Dem coalition running the Scotland Office.

So we could have the basis for a deal tonight, Cameron to the palace in the morning, a new Prime Minister and the cabinet posts shared out over Wednesday and Thursday.

Brown, you might expect, would stand down immediately and Harriet Harman, who has ruled out standing as leader takes over as caretaker. That could happen any minute now, unless Peter Mandelson has a fresh deck of cards to take to this game.

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