During tonight’s Question Time debate on the BBC, both David Cameron and Ed Miliband repeatedly refused to discuss possible coalition arrangements in the event of a hung parliament.
The leaders of the UK’s two biggest parties dodged audience questions about potential deals and pacts, drawing derision from the feisty studio audience.
Miliband and Cameron need to step back and take a dose of reality.
No one, inside or outside of Westminster, genuinely thinks that either party is going to win a majority on May 7th. By continuing to bleat about majorities and decisive mandates, the two leaders are engaging in a grand deception that is needlessly patronising to voters.
Tonight was a great opportunity, free of their opponents’ interruptions, for both Miliband and Cameron to have a frank and honest discussion about their post-poll coalition plans. To pretend that the election is going to deliver a decisive result is to willfully mislead the population.
One audience member rightly called Miliband out on the issue, imploring him to earn his respect by offering up the truth about coalitions.
— YourElection2015 (@YourElection15) April 30, 2015
The electorate is savvier than the leaders are giving it credit for. Everyone knows the slightly sleazy “darkened room” that became a theme of tonight’s debate is set to be a reality. It’s going to be fifty shades of coalition.
They want to know what’s going to be said behind those closed doors and whether they can expect their nation to have a stable government by the end of this month.
That was the central issue of tonight’s debate, which made it all the more frustrating when the leaders refused to engage. By the time Nick Clegg arrived, the audience seemed weary as he spoke for a long time about his willingness to work in coalition with just about anyone who will have him.
It was only when pressed that Miliband stated that he would not work with Nicola Sturgeon and the SNP. There was much talk of red lines, but little talk of realism.
As we edge ever closer to this election, it’s only the smaller parties who are willing to admit what everyone on the electoral register already knows. The next parliament is going to be a right mess, but someone’s got to make sense of it.