In a hung Parliament, the party leader who leads the biggest single party may not emerge as Prime Minister. In such circumstances, this site wants David Cameron to be able to. This means making some moves that are desirable in themselves, and considering others that aren’t – but which may be necessary.
An example of the first is Home Rule for all the UK’s home nations, as championed in the ConservativeHome Manifesto. As I wrote earlier today, Cameron should be ready to offer this to Alex Salmond and the SNP in the event of the Party winning more seats than Labour.
An example of the second is an early referendum on Britain’s EU membership, which seems to be Nigel Farage’s conditions for not turning Cameron out of Number 10 and putting Ed Miliband in. Although such a plebiscite would be likely to return a Yes vote, Cameron could not reasonably refuse it.
So much for the SNP and UKIP. I will pass by the DUP, whose support on a Confidence and Supply or vote-by-vote basis could presumably be obtained on the traditional terms (otherwise known as “a shopping list of desirable goodies“).
This brings us to the one party who have already shown themselves willing to provide the Conservatives with more than Confidence and Supply – namely, the Liberal Democrats. What would be at the top of their negotiating list? Proportional representation in English local government elections, perhaps?
Needless to say, the Conservatives shouldn’t concede deals with any party on any terms. For me, giving away PR for local elections would be too high a price to pay, though it would admittedly give the Party an electoral foothold in some northern urban areas from which it has long been excluded.
I feel the same about the Mansion Tax. But I woudn’t go to the wire to oppose new, higher council tax bands for the most expensive properties, as suggested on this site by Mark Field. As he wrote, “here is a vast difference between a £2 million flat in Pimlico and a home valued at £60 million at One Hyde Park”.
This is a distinction that Vince Cable seems unable to grasp. A £2 million house is almost by definition a very desirable property. But in London at least, it is not usually a mansion. By raising more revenue from Bishops’ Avenue and the like, the Field proposal would offer the Business Secretary the real thing.