Hung Parliament no guarantee of reform

A hung parliamentWith the Lib Dems surging in the polls after Nick Clegg’s victory in the Leaders’ Debate, the Electoral Reform Society is working for a hung parliament with its Vote for a Change campaign. Effectively, saying vote Lib Dem or, if in Scotland or Wales, nationalist.

I’ve received a number of naive emails from the campaign’s Willie Sullivan pointing out that many voters would welcome a hung parliament and insisting that a ‘hung parliament is a reforming parliament’. But I suspect Willie Sullivan would left somewhat disappointed if parliament was hung.

Gordon Brown would be under no obligation to resign as prime minister and would be free to continue at the head of a minority administration. That would upset a lot of people and would be far from democratic, but nobody else would have a mandate to govern either. He would have a duty to soldier on.

No doubt Labour would offer the Lib Dems a chance to support parliamentary reform, but my guess is that that would be on little more than a take-it-or-leave-it basis. They’d get to be consulted on a bill to be put to a referendum, but their influence would be quite limited. All of this would take quite some time, during which the Lib Dems would be required to support the minority government or throw away any chance of reforming parliament.

It’s hard to believe that voters, having been shut out of all this, would looking to vote for a hung parliament again.

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