Friday, May 07, 2010

David Cameron Is Really Rolling the Dice Now

Cameron offers deal to Liberal Democratic Party

As the British 2010 election draws to a close with the Conservative Party up to 20 seats short of an absolute majority in the House of Commons -- that number could shrink to 19, but not nearly close enough -- many Britons have been wondering how long it would take for a deal to be offered to Nick Clegg and the Liberal Democratic Party.

Not long at all, as it turns out.

British Tory leader David Cameron has held his first offer out to Clegg, but is publicly offering few details on that offer, to date.

"I want to make a big, open and comprehensive offer to the Liberal Democrats. I want us to work together in tackling our country's big and urgent problems - the debt crisis, our deep social problems and our broken political system," Cameron announced.

Cameron is apparently prepared to tolerate the give-and-take that will be necessary to forge such an agreement between themselves and the Lib Dems.

"I think we have a strong basis for a strong government," Cameron insisted. "Inevitably the negotiations we're about to start will involve compromise. That is what working together in the national interest means."

The deal Cameron has offered could even include a full coalition for the Lib Dems -- replete with cabinet positions. Presumably, a national referendum on electoral reform -- focused around some form of proportional representation -- is very likely part of the deal.

But as a recent article by David Frum points out, Cameron takes a lot of risks by dealing too closely with the Lib Dems. If many British conservatives were uncomfortable with Cameron's ideological reforms within the party, dealing too closely with Clegg and the Lib Dems will be enough to be labelled a full-out "wet" by the stringent Thatcherites within his party.

In other words, David Cameron will run the risk of driving his own base away from hin. That's one way to ensure himself a John Major-esque reversal of political fortunes.

But even allowing Labour to offer a deal to Clegg and the Lib Dems would be gambling. Britain can ill-afford any more time wandering in the fiscal wilderness. A Labour/Lib Dem coalition would be unlikely to get the public chequebook under control.

If Cameron were to stand by and allow Labour and Lib Dems to continue to run Britain deeper and deeper into deficit, conservative Britons may never forgive that.

It would be foolish to assume that the decisions David Cameron will have to make in the coming days will be easy ones. No matter how he decides to roll the dice, he runs the risk of rolling snake eyes.

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