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Page last updated at 14:35 GMT, Tuesday, 11 May 2010 15:35 UK

Hung parliament: The Lib Dem and Labour dilemmas

BBC correspondents report on the thinking in the Labour and Liberal Democrat camps as talks continue about forming the UK's next government.


Labour's strategists have drawn up plans to try to sell any deal with the Lib Dems to potentially sceptical members of their own party.

A five-point plan would be designed to answer concerns:

1)It would be argued that we do not live in a presidential system so we should not be overly concerned by changing leaders.

Unelected prime ministers have been a feature of the British system and included prominent Conservatives such as Anthony Eden and Harold Macmillan. Gordon Brown was an unpopular leader and many voters stuck with Labour despite him so the party is likely to be given more leeway by voters now he says he is going.

2)There is legitimacy as Labour and the Lib Dems together got 52% per cent of the vote at the election.

3)Polls suggest voters want parties to work together and Labour could deliver this.

4)Voters want the broken political system fixed and the Lib Dems and Labour have the most radical plans to do so.

5)The coalition would be stable as Lib Dems and Labour, with sister parties the SDLP and Alliance, outvote the Conservatives and Democratic Unionists without relying on the Welsh and Scottish Nationalists.

They say that the Conservatives did not win the election. No party did so none should govern alone.

Despite this plan, many senior Labour figures still believe any deal would be a short-term fix which would damage Labour in the long term as they look too desperate for power.


Is Nick Clegg facing the opportunity of a lifetime or a dilemma of nightmare proportions?

He has both Labour and the Conservatives wooing him with the biggest bouquets they can offer - electoral reform, a change in the voting system, a chance for the party to get their votes translated into more seats.

But he faces anger and betrayal from within his own party, and from those who voted for it, whichever of the two he chooses to go into coalition with.

Generally, older members of the party, and many of the activists, are more instinctively Labour-leaning. His newly constituted parliamentary party has a number of MPs from the south-west of England who are fresh from staving off the Tories.

What are the chances that they feel less than enthusiastic about the prospect of a Lib/Con alliance?

But time is running out for Nick Clegg and he knows it. The longer he takes to make up his mind the louder the voices of dissent will become.

He's heard betrayal from the Tory grandee Sir Malcolm Rifkind - never a fan of coalition but today publicly furious at the Lib Dems' private soundings with Labour.

And on the other side, former Cabinet ministers John Reid and David Blunkett issuing warnings, as much to their own side as to the Lib Dems, that the voters have pronounced and that they don't want Labour.

And finally, Nick Clegg knows that he can't test the public's patience for too long.

For these last five days, the nation has been transfixed by the comings and goings, the near deals and the machinations. But that mood could turn easily into exasperation at the lack of a decision.

Lifetime opportunity or nightmare dilemma? Nick Clegg is stuck somewhere in the middle.

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