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March 04, 2007

The Lib Dems could get crowded out in 2009

If the next parliament is hung, Sir Menzies could have either Gordon Brown or David Cameron or both of them at his door. The closer we get to the election, and the more the possibility of a hung parliament begins to intrigue the media, the more interest there will be in the Lib Dems. They may suddenly find themselves centre stage – Andrew Rawnsley, writing in today’s Observer.

Ming CampbellI agree with what much of Andrew Rawnsley says in his article, but not his conclusion. He says that with the Lib Dems a potential coalition partner in a hung parliament, they’ll become much more important to British politics in the next three years.

That may be true, but I’m not expecting much of a rise in their representation in Parliament.

If, as expected, the Brown v Cameron election is a close-run thing, perhaps resulting in a hung parliament, then I’d be surprised if the Lib Dems’ number of seats didn’t fall. The margins between Labour and the Conservatives will be so small, people will find it hard to ‘waste’ their vote on a party who will probably end up governing – at least in some small part – anyway.

The next election won’t be about the composition of the Commons. It’ll be a straight fight for who should choose the Cabinet. And in such a situation, the Lib Dems might be key players, but could also find themselves left out in the electoral cold.

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