So: here we are. No-one has the foggiest, of course, and that, coupled with the fact that it feels like something different is happening this time, means a much more exciting election than for some while.
Like everyone else I’ve been trying to get to grips with what a hung parliament scenario might entail for the coming days and (probably) weeks, and was particularly struck by this article on LabourList. If you ignore the flagrantly party political stuff it’s mostly a really detailed and convincing piece, and it emphasises how little room for manoeuvre the Lib Dems are likely to have. In particular:
…the Lib Dems’ ability to exact policy concessions in return for their ’support’ for either Labour or the Conservatives is very limited: if either of the other party leaders refuses to grant the concessions demanded, the Lib Dems’ only sanction is to bring down, or threaten to bring down, that party’s government — and if that precipitates a fresh election, the Lib Dems are likely to be the principal losers. It will be like an insect that can use its sting only once, because it dies as a result of using it.
The argument runs that the Lib Dems will be the losers in this scenario because they will have been seen to cause a difficult period of prolonged uncertainty (difficult especially in terms of the impact on the economy, I guess) by impeding both of the larger parties.
So are those amongst us who have been tempted to think that the Lib Dems have the potential to bring about a more consensual Westminster politics (me, I have to say, included) deluding themselves a bit? Are we actually looking at a period of post-election negotiation that’s the only likely result of a heavily conditioned two-party system, one in which Clegg and Co. hold much less power than they (and their supporters) think?