So, who really are the winners and the losers after Thursday’s election? The answer must be that the three main parties have all won and lost.
David Cameron can claim his party has gained the highest level of support for probably the last eighty years, and should therefore be allowed to govern, but he has failed to convince us all he is the man for the job by winning the required overall majority.
He flunked the shot when presented with the perception of an open goal. It should have been an easy task after the increasing criticism of prime minister, Gordon Brown and the political shenanigans of the last 18 months but he misread the public barometer.
Gordon Brown can claim a personal moral victory by the fact his party did not lose in the spectacular fashion predicted by the many who mounted a personal campaign against him. It’s true, his party lost a large number of seats to the Conservatives but he still clings on to power, under the electoral rules, until a viable alternative can be presented for the Queen’s approval. David Cameron has so far failed to demonstrate that alternative.
Nick Clegg, who had gained an enormous amount of credibility for himself and the Liberal Democrats during the election campaign, failed to capitalise on that momentum and lost several seats when the final count was announced. It seems that, at the crucial moment, the voters were not convinced enough to take the chance.
In that respect he was a net loser but in reality he has gained more real power for his party than it has held for many a year, by becoming the power broker between Labour and the Conservatives; suddenly he is the most attractive person at the political ball.
The Conservatives have already started wooing him in an attempt to form some sort of political marriage of convenience, thereby enabling Cameron to evict Brown and move into Number10.
Meanwhile, Gordon Brown is, eagerly, watching from the side of the dance floor hoping the smooching will not be good enough to convince Clegg and providing the opportunity for him to step in and court him on the re-bound.
If Clegg is savvy enough to flutter his eyelashes at both of them, he will be showered with ‘policy’ gifts for months to come. They will be putty in his hands – not because he is the most attractive person at the ball but because he is the key to having the final dance dedicated to them.
Whether any such marriage of convenience will become lasting remains to be seen.