Monday, 2 March 2015

Operation save dave: David Cameron prepares to cling onto power, even if he wins less seats than Labour

David Cameron reportedly is preparing to stay on as prime minister-even if he wins less seats than Labour, according to a report in the Sunday Times.

Cameron and George Osborne have reportedly been discussing tactics for May 8th with senior conservative whips and MPs in the shadow cabinet. It is thought that one of the options on the table, looked upon most favourably by both the PM and Chancellor, is Cameron trying to cling onto power in a minority government, even if Labour win more seats.

The Sunday Times report says: " George Osborne held a dinner with Conservative whips on Monday night to discuss tactics for the days after the vote on May 7.

Two senior MPs revealed that Tory high command is preparing to argue that Cameron has won a “moral victory” if he secures more votes than Ed Miliband — even if he has fewer seats.

In the event of a fragile Labour-led coalition taking power, they would argue that there could be a second general election within months and it would be better to stick with Cameron than hold a bloody leadership contest.

Ministers close to Downing Street say even if Cameron wins the most seats, he is drawing up plans to run a minority government rather than seek another coalition.

Senior figures believe he could keep his MPs onside because going it alone would free up 23 ministerial posts held by Liberal Democrats.

One minister close to Cameron said: “If there is an opportunity to govern without going into coalition, we would seize it.”

In other words, David Cameron will try to remain prime minister if he wins less seats than Labour. He is also repprtedly determined not to form a coalition with anybody after the next election.

My view is that this is a move that is unlikely to succeed. Gordon Brown attempted to do the same and only lasted for a week after the last election. The prime minister has a constitutional right to try to hang on if no-one is able to form a majority government, but it is highly likely that the opposition would come to some sort of agreement, whether confidence or supply or a full coalition, that would ensure that Cameron could not remain PM. Cameron would almost certainly also have to resign as Tory leader, and the Tories have a ruthless history of dealing with washout leaders, as Thatcher and IDS knew.

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