A number of friends in both the Green Party and Lib Dems said to me yesterday that a ‘progressive’ majority deal would not be accepted by the British people, and that such a government, when it fell, would be replaced with a substantial Tory majority. Here is my reply:

I agree that Lib Dems, Labour, Plaid, the SNP, SDLP, Alliance and Green would struggle to make a long term coalition seem legitimate. This is entirely a fiction of the right wing press – its perfectly legitimate for a majority to form against the biggest party if these parties feel that they, and their voters, have more in common with each other. However, it is true that the Murdoch media would ensure the Government would be seen as a ‘coalition of the losers’, and do everything to undermine it’s legitimacy.

However, it’s also worth remembering that most Labour voters loath the Tories, and most Lib Dems prefer Labour to the Tories, so most of those votes would come through, I suspect. In fact, I suspect most people in Britain would prefer such a coalition to a Tory Government, once the post election confusion settled down. And I do think that there’s a compromise position.

The Lib Dems agree with Labour that there shouldn’t be any cuts in the next year.

Labour have said that they are wiling to agree with the Lib Dems on electoral reform – which could be pushed through in a year.

So the Lib Dems (with Nats etc) could do a deal with Labour to go into coalition (or confidence and supply or whatever) for a year, in which PR is pushed through (ideally in a bill, but a referendum if it has to be – which we could, just, win), public spending maintained, etc. We have a new election in 2011, once we are (probably) out of the recession, and with a new electoral system.

I think that most people would in fact accept a coalition for a year to steer the economy out of recession and push through political reforms – most agree with Lab/Lib Dems on these things. Especially if it was seen as a coalition to prevent immediate savage cuts to public services, and to change politics.

We could then have a new election with a fair voting system to start a new era of British politics, after the recession, and with a new Labour leader. While I agree that the right wing press would throw the toys out of the cot, I think most of those who voted against the Tories this time would stick with it – especially as Tory squabbling over how they ended up in opposition continued.