So last night’s exit poll as declared by the Beeb just after the polls closed at 2200 hours has been shown to be pretty accurate: it reckoned that the seat count for Tory, Labour and Lib Dem would break down 307:255:59. With just two seats left to declare, one of which (Thirsk and Malton) will be delayed after the death of one of the candidates, it’s showing 305:258:57.
There was suitable disbelief in Tory cheerleading circles as the estimated result was announced, with the most memorable call coming from Iain Dale, a compliant and reliable conduit for Tory propaganda, who unwisely committed himself to running naked down Whitehall if the projected numbers were right. Dale invoked memories of 1992 to suggest that Young Dave would get a majority, without pausing to think that the polling organisations might have refined their techniques in the intervening years.
So now Cameron is offering the prospect of potential coalition to Corporal Clegg, who should know what happens in peacetime to any party that goes in with the Tories: the other party gets screwed over, and the Tories emerge stronger, being the ones with the strongest survival instinct and the least hesitation in deployment of anything featuring ruthlessness and low cunning.
Which means that Clegg would be best advised to decline any formal embrace and let Cameron and his jolly good chaps form a minority Government. Despite all the dosh that was thrown at the Tory campaign, the idea that those funds could be switched on again at a few months’ notice is not credible. Together with the equivalent lack of money available to Labour and Lib Dem, this could focus minds wonderfully.
So, as I said earlier, Cameron should go ahead and form an administration. He should consult widely and proceed sensibly: if he is the Real Deal, then he’ll step up to the plate. Neither of his rivals have the appetite to bring him down for a year or two, he’s got the most seats, and the small matter of most of the Fourth Estate fawning over him.Although that does not guarantee success.