Very sneakily, Clegg’s team have found a neat way to turn questions about hung parliaments into a positive message about Lib Dem policy. We saw it on the news today, and I’m sure we’ll see it wheeled out again – and again, and again, probably until journalists get bored of asking the question.
When asked what the Lib Dems would do in the event of a hung parliament, Nick’s strategy is to say what the Lib Dems would want to get from any sort of deal, which mysteriously matches closely with the four key themes. Nick says we would want to have the first £10,000 of income tax free, improve education, fix the economy and banking system and fix our broken parliamentary system.
Asked whether Nick can guarantee those as red lines of any deal, the response is that the more people vote Lib Dem, the more chance we have of getting what the Lib Dems are proposing.
He’s right. Were there to be some post-election deal, the Lib Dem’s bargaining power would be completely dependent on the party’s strength in parliament. Until the Nick knows the hand he has to play, it’s fair to hold back from laying out a detailed negotiating position.
It’s also a good political line; a sensible way to answer the question that’s dogged Lib Dem and Liberal/SDP Alliance leaders for every election for the last quarter of a century.