This video tells the story. Clegg’s 10.30 am announcement sounds like an olive branch to Cameron, but it is heavily laden with a demand for PR.
Clegg could swing with Labour but would they get an absolute majority? Possibly,probably not.
So in truth he has little choice but to run with Cameron.
Cameron can afford to hold his fire for a while and show that Brown cannot form a government with Clegg. Clegg in away has weakened his negotiating position by speaking first. Cameron can afford to wait. Clegg is making demands right at the start. Surely he would do better to get Cameron on the phone first before laying down obstacles to their coming together.
Clegg again is overplaying his hand. As the hours tick by, and Cameron secures 310 seats, and maybe gets overtures from the Celtic fringe, taking him perilously close to a 326 majority, Clegg will find himself having to consider dropping pre-conditions for a coalition.
Cameron might yet find some rebels from somewhere wanting to do a deal, and seal a majority that way. Either way PR is unlikely to be on the table. Is it really in the national interest to insert a longterm decision about the voting system into pole position when the country has urgent economic business to attend to.
If Clegg digs in, he will collapse the currency. He has to start facing up to a different reality. Before the election he could say anything and there were few consequences. He’s now in a situation where even a nod or a wink could set off a crisis. He needs to change his approach, stop pitching publicly for what he wants, and deliver what the country needs – in a word – government. This will be a good responsibility test for Clegg.
Cameron’s offer to the Lib Dems was much more cryptic. Very wise. The deals will have to be done in private.