Populus: A Conservative minority government with the support of the Liberal Democrats is, narrowly, the favoured solution to the electoral stalemate – Times
Yesterday evening's ToryDiary: 86% of Tory members prefer minority government to coalition
John Major leads CCHQ's woo-the-LibDems operation
"David Cameron stepped up the pressure on Nick Clegg tonight to sign a binding cross-party programme for government by despatching Sir John Major to float the possibility of handing cabinet posts to senior Liberal Democrats. In an attempt to demonstrate the seriousness of his "open and comprehensive" offer to the Lib Dems, Cameron asked the former prime minister to say the Tories were prepared to lead the first coalition government in Britain since the second world war." – Guardian
Nick Clegg consults his party about coalition
"Mr Clegg faces his first major challenge in Westminster at lunchtime, when he needs to get the backing for any proposals from at least three-quarters of his 57 MPs. Any deal with the Conservatives is likely to be controversial and could be opposed by many of the Lib Dems, who remain instinctively hostile to the idea. Sky's political correspondent Joey Jones said: "The focus today is going to be on the grassroots and the extent to which the leadership teams will be able to take their parties with them." – Sky News
"Mr Clegg will meet his MPs and his executive committee later to meet to discuss Mr Cameron's proposals in the wake of the first general election to deliver a hung parliament since 1974. BBC political correspondent Peter Hunt said the Lib Dem leader "will have to keep his party with him"." – BBC
"Nick Clegg has the chance to seize the moment and get a change to the voting system. There is a danger he will let it pass – an error that is entirely in line with his party's tentative approach to the pragmatic demands of power." – Steve Richards in The Independent
"Lib Dem mutinies would be Mr Clegg’s problem, not Mr Cameron’s. Suppose Mr Cameron had secured a wafer-thin overall majority, putting him at the mercy of a handful of Tory renegades. Mutinies among his junior partners in a Lib-Tory pact are actually easier to handle than this: he can cry “betrayal” and precipitate a general election." – Matthew Parris in The Times
The Sun backs LibCon co-operation
The Sun Says: "On three key areas – extra funding for poor pupils, scrapping Labour's jobs tax, and a greener Britain – Tories and Lib Dems already have much in common. On the economy, the Tory chief would work with the Lib Dems and back tax reform. Mr Cameron is right to rule out compromise on defence, the euro and immigration. They are non-negotiable. But his offer of electoral reform ticks the biggest Lib Dem box of all. And certain reform is needed after shambolic and shaming polling day scenes that made Britain look like tinpot Zimbabwe. Adopting Lib Dem policies would complement Mr Cameron's open-minded and modern attitudes."
Michael Portillo: Proportional representation would allow Cameron to break free from the Tory Right
"The first past the post system is now difficult to defend. Sooner or later it will be replaced. It would be better for the Conservatives to re-model it, rather than allow Labour at a future date to choose a system that brings it partisan advantage. Depending on what new system emerges, there may be political re-grouping. By then the Cameroons will have discovered that they can work with the Lib Dems, or at least some of them. The prospect of ditching the Tory party Right wing is hardly dismaying." – Michael Portillo in The Telegraph
The Cornerstone Group of Tory MPs yesterday issued a statement backing Mr Cameron's initiative on talks with the Liberal Democrats.
Michael Brown and Simon Heffer: The Conservatives did not do well enough
"In the words of one senior Tory backbencher to me yesterday, "Cameron has pissed this election away." The Tory leader has spent more than four years "decontaminating the brand". Yet, against this backcloth of humiliation for Labour, he has ended up with less than a 3 per cent increase on the share of the vote achieved at the 2005 general election by Michael Howard, who pursued a "dog whistle" campaign highlighting, immigration, Europe and tax cuts." – Michael Brown in The Independent
"Dave had to fight a widely despised Prime Minister leading a Government incompetent and destructive on a scale unseen in living memory. Seldom has there been a softer target; but seldom has one been missed so unnecessarily. With just 36 per cent of the vote, the Tories stood almost still since 2005. They are now on their knees to their other enemy, the Lib Dems." – Simon Heffer in The Telegraph
…but, in the Daily Mail, Peter Oborne disagrees: "It is true that he did not win an outright majority. Nevertheless, he has led the Conservative Party to one of the most famous triumphs in its history, adding well over 100 seats to the Tory representation in the Commons, a feat not achieved by any Tory leader for 80 years. Furthermore, it is worth bearing in mind that he scored a clear advantage of two million votes over Labour, scoring 36% of the popular vote against Gordon Brown's 29%."
Andy Coulson and Steve Hilton blamed for hung parliament result
"The unpalatable truth, say critics, is that for decades the most well-funded, professionally organised and disciplined Tory campaign has come up short. Disaffected MPs have identified two early scapegoats: Andy Coulson and Mr Hilton. Mr Coulson, unfairly insist some, is being blamed for allowing Mr Cameron to be trapped by his own rhetoric in the television debates. The decision to give Nick Clegg a platform was a grave blunder, as even Mr Cameron has come close to acknowledging. Mr Hilton, meanwhile, shoulders responsibility for crafting a message that failed to connect with sufficient force. Behind-the-scenes anecdotes are starting to emerge. One records how Bill Knapp, the US political consultant hired to help Mr Cameron, had a simple question on the eve of the vital second television debate. What research had been done into what voters thought of the Tory campaign’s key theme of the Big Society? The answer was an embarrassed silence. When results from a hurriedly convened focus group detailed a negative reaction at a subsequent meeting, Mr Hilton is said to have stormed out." – The Times
The Tatler photograph Tories were nearly all defeated – Guardian
But The Express offers a different perspective; Zac Goldsmith led a jubilant election night for David Cameron’s A-list Tories.
The Liberal Democrat surge did not happen
"Through the campaign, the Liberal Democrats looked set to be the chief beneficiaries of the nation's rage against the old politics. For the first time in a generation, the third force dared to hope that it would break the mould. In the event that did not happen, and they ended the evening with fewer MPs than they had at the start. Before all else it needs to be said that the party did attract some extra votes – to be precise, 800,000 more than last time. That represents a one percentage-point rise in the share of a growing poll. The rise came even though Iraq no longer provided the trump card it did in 2005. It gave rise to reduced representation only because of the malign vagaries of the electoral system. Nonetheless, there is no disguising that the final level of Liberal support fell well short of what Nick Clegg and his backers had hoped for." – Guardian leader
Nick Griffin's party were the biggest losers: a great win for antifascists and east London – Billy Bragg in The Guardian
The NothingBritish campaign group reviews the BNP's election performance; The BNP belly flops.
Charles Moore attacks the BBC's coverage of the election
"It was fitting that the BBC chose to give its election night party on a boat. No sooner had the fun started than the entire television system on board broke down for three quarters of an hour. So the flagship of the biggest broadcaster in the world, with captain Mark Thompson (and your columnist) on board, was floating helplessly, out of contact with the outside world. Our predicament was a metaphor for the media’s failures in reporting this election. We have abandoned serious study of what actually bothers people. We have become cut off from understanding the way voters feel about things outside London and the world of celebrity. The enormous variety of constituency results surely shows how unhelpful national opinion polls have become. The media attend to the air war and forget the ground war." – Charles Moore in The Telegraph
David Cameron falls into the arms of wife Samantha as they steal lingering kiss at front door – Daily Mail
And finally… The Sun sends a removals van to Gordon Brown
"The Sun dropped a massive "move out" hint to Gordon Brown – by sending this REMOVALS van to Downing Street."
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