This is the received wisdom: a hung parliament is good news for the Liberal Democrats, because it leaves them, as the third-largest party, holding the balance of power. LibDem leader Nick Clegg will be courted by both sides and will decide whether Labour or Conservatives form the next government with him as part of a coalition administration.
The latest opinion poll in Britain showing the opposition Conservatives six points ahead of the ruling Labour party has raised the possibility of a hung parliament with no one party having an overall majority and a return to the kind of political uncertainty not seen since the 1970s.
LibDem leader Nick Clegg had called for the speech to be cancelled because he says there is little chance of much legislation getting through before the coming general election. ”The speech will be dressed up as the way to ‘build Britain’s future’ when it will be little more than a rehearsal of the next Labour Party manifesto, an attempt to road-test policy gimmicks to see whether they might save this Government’s skin,” he said.”It is a waste of everyone’s time, and should be cancelled in favour of an emergency programme of political reform,” he added in the Independent. “That is the only job this rump of a Parliament is fit for.”The Conservatives piled in too, with their leader in the upper House, Lord Strathclyde saying that if the measures outlined were so important they would have been in the government’s legislative programme last year rather than being left to the last moment of the fifth term.Downing Street however called the speech a ”very focused programme” of legislation, while Labour’s deputy leader Harriet Harman said it contained important plans to foster economic growth and make the banks more accountable.What do you think?