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Coalition: Chris Huhne confirms – the Cyberlock applies

By Angela Harbutt
March 13th, 2010 at 1:43 am | 23 Comments | Posted in Liberal Democrats, UK Politics

cybermanLast night’s Newsnight (see below) led on the LibDem protocols in the event of a hung Parliament. Chris Huhne stood up to the plate to answer Gavin Esler’s questions off the back of a pretty jaw dropping package by Michael Crick.

 Chris said that he understood a conference resolution passed in Southport in 1998 applies to the party post-May 6th if there’s no overall majority in the House of Commons.

 This would mean that Nick would require a 75% majority of BOTH LibDem MPs and 75% of the Federal Executive before (according to Crick) Nick could “do a deal”. And “not just coalition”. Nick would need this support before signing up to “any substantial proposal which could affect the party’s independence of political action”.

 Brian Orrell – who seems an all round nice bloke, and used to play a Cyberman in the old Dr Who TV series – may play a decisive role in virtue of his role as Federal Exec Vice President.

If Nick Clegg fell short of these hurdles, I gather that he could choose to convene a conference by the seaside or conduct a members’ ballot or something equally insane.

(Bear in mind that the total membership of the party is now measurably less than the number of registered voters in ONE parliamentary constituency and the number of LibDem federal conference reps would be less than the electorate in a standard Parish council ward…how democratic is that?).

If we want to claim that a hung Parliament is not necessarily a bad thing and that the markets needn’t panic, we at least need to have our own rules sorted out. And these rules need to be both sane and practical.

If these really are our rules, it’s hard to argue that the financial markets should show any confidence at all in the likely LibDem response to a no-majority situation at Westminster.

Let’s hope Nick makes it very plain in his leader’s speech that he will totally disregard the Southport rules, made quite clearly for a different age.

Watch the full Newsnight programme here.

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