The Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition faces its greatest challenge today after it emerged that internal Liberal Democrat discussions have lead to a hung party. Nick Clegg has been in constant communication with the parliamentary party, and has relayed all the details of the negotiations on going between himself and the Conservative leader David Cameron. It was thought that the proposed alliance might actually be possible despite ostensible policy disagreements, but the result of an internal ballet taken last night showed that only 46% of the party supported the move and 45% expressly opposed it, with a further 9% of the party locked out by balloting officials. Therefore, in the absence of an outright majority, the party has been left in limbo.
The major concern within the party is that whilst there may be the potential opportunity for cabinet involvement and the chance to have an influence on Government policy, a dominant and uncompromising Conservative Leadership may not pay heed to the Liberal Democrat demands, particularly regarding electoral reform. There is also the issue of the moral responsibility of the party. Many members of the party have collapsed and a number have been sectioned under the Mental Health Act of 1983 due to the strain of deciding whether or not to side with the party who registered most votes or the one least likely to support the KU Klux Klan.
Senior figures have also expressed concern that a Conservative alliance is likely to necessitate frequent hobnobing with with senior Tory figures in the exclusive Westminster Conservative Gentlemens club. It is feared that an excessive exposure to brandy, opium, fake-moustache twiddling and other such 'Oscar Wilde recreations' may lead to an increase in members of the the Liberal Democrats attending Clapham Common and soliciting rent-boys, a problem that has literally dogged the party in recent years.
It is believed that Ming Campbell is at the forefront of the pro-Tory campaign, and in an attempt to bridge the party divide, has offered the Simon Hughes-led dissenters a 'big, open, comprehensive offer'. Campbell went on to state that 'We promise to make sure that the Conservatives promise to at least think about electoral reform, and ensure that the Tory-sceptics of our party will be represented in the group representing the Liberal Democrats in the the cross-party think-tank on electoral reform'. 'In addition,' said Campbell,' we promise to back the reinstatement of 'Section 28' in order to protect the party from future scandal.
However, the situation is unlikely to reach a speedy conclusion as despite the Liberal Democrat desire for proportional representation, internal party policy decisions are still decided by a ‘first-passed the post’ voting system. The system was introduced to balance the left and right wings of the party, after it was feared that one or the other might come to dominate, therefore giving the party an actual identity, and robbing it of its most attractive feature as the ‘quiet mysterious one’. As a result, Clegg began motions to introduce electoral reform immediately after the ballot result was announced.
In an attempt to steady the ship, Clegg also brought in former leaders Paddy Ashdown and Charles Kennedy, both of whom played a massive part in taking the party from where it was as one commanding 25 % of the public vote in 1983 to a party that now commands 23%, and who are still respected figures within the party. However, hopes were scuppered when Charles Kennedy became aggressive after drinking six cans of 'Special Brew' then was found sleeping in the toilets, and Paddy Ashdown was caught with his pants down making a full frontal advance on Miriam Gonzalez Durantez.
The Tories are now allegedly considering a minority government, as it is believed that it may be more stable and viable that an alliance with Clegg. However, they are considering electoral reform as result of the crisis, and are considering making Liberal Democrats votes count for half in the future, thus reducing the risk of such a situation arising again.