If you listen to the mainstream media and the politicians you'd get the impression that the electorate had made a bit of a boo-boo with the way they voted on Thursday and have now presented the politicians with something of a problem. The underlying theme of this whole deal brokering guff is that the politicians have to undo the mess we've made.
This is, of course, bollocks. The mantra of 'strong and stable government' is being trotted out with depressingly predictable regularity. What seems clear to me is that the electorate know that they don't want Labour, the Conservatives or the Lib Dems in power. That, along with a desire to see Brown out, if not Cameron in, are the only messages which are beyond doubt from this election.
So what's going to happen? They're going to do their best to get themselves what they want, power, regardless of the wishes of the electorate. If they can't get it at the ballot box, they'll get it behind closed doors in some meeting room at the Cabinet Office. So much for this new transparent politics they've all been banging on about.
I'm uneasy with the whole thing. Firstly a question to which the answer would seem to be obvious. Why do we need a strong government? Belgium did without for about two years. Strong government sounds like a laudable thing, it's taken in the media as a given that strong government is what is needed. But what does that mean? From where I'm sitting that means either Cameron or Brown, with a little help from their friends, being able to railroad through legislation, regardless of if we want it or not. Strong equals unaccountable in my book.
I think Clegg would do well to stick to his guns on PR, a referendum at least, from whoever he decides to jump into bed with. The Tories have been making noises about the fact that their policy on PR is well known and that people still voted for them, so we obviously don't want it.
I don't know if PR is what the electorate want, I think any referendum would be close as the public in general would be apathetic at best to turning out, whilst Tory supporters would turn out in huge numbers to vote against. But that isn't the point, the point is that we deserve to be asked. The General Election is never about a single issue and to pretend otherwise when it suits you is dishonest.
I've written in the past about the danger to Clegg and the Lib Dems in entering into an understanding/pact/coalition with any party. They'll be the ones who will be damaged when it inevitably all goes wrong. Could it be that Clegg is exploring the possibility of entering into a deal with the others on each side so that he can then turn round in a few days and say 'sorry folks, we tried, but these guys aren't interested in listening to us'? Or is it a case, that I was warned of by a former Lib Dem member a year or so ago, that the Lib Dems would agree to pretty much anything if they got the chance to press the buttons for a few days?
I give qualified support to PR, I think it is certainly more equitable than first past the post, although I do think the link between a constituency and MP that FPTP allows is very important.
Does the end of PR justify the means? I'm not sure, but when you see how OH outlines it, I find it difficult to argue against it, even if it wouldn't taste very nice at the time.
One thing is for sure, having meetings behind closed doors, to build a government based on horse trading where we have no voice is no democracy at all.
The group who demonstrated in support of PR outside the Lib Dem meeting on Saturday have a petition running. Should you find yourself in agreement with your aims, you can sign up to it here.