The opponents of reform are already using the current negotiation process as a case study, painting it as a grubby business in which nobody gets exactly what they voted for (personally, I’m quite used to this idea; normally I don’t get anything I voted for at all), and Gordon Brown is allowed to squat in Number 10. We are going to have to make a case to the public in favour of electoral reform at some point.
I suspect that, after years of conditioning by the current “Elections Thursday, removal van outside No. 10 Friday morning” system, people are going to have a hard time signing up to any reforms that might put the Lib Dems permanently in the hot seat to decide who the winners are, with a protracted period of limbo. And, lets be honest, after the experience of this week, do we really want to put ourselves in that position?
My feeling on this is that there is an appetite among the British electorate for PR, but also for clear, decisive results of an election. How do we square that circle? Well, how about this:
We hold an AV election for Prime Minister, so that all those people who were disappointed that they didn’t have Brown, Cameron and Clegg on the ballot paper get their wish. Meanwhile, we have a more proportional system for electing constituency MPs, ideally STV. The winner of the Prime Ministerial ballot goes straight to Number 10, and they then hold talks with all the other parties to determine how they can best form a government. We get used to the idea that a new government takes a couple of weeks or so to form, but at least we know who the PM is pretty immediately.
Of course, only trouble with that is, nobody had it in their manifesto.