Naturally there is much discussion as to what the Liberal Democrats will do if there is a balanced parliament. (Why do both the press and parties, including the Liberal Democrats, persist in using the negative term "hung" rather than "balanced" which is both more accurate and has positive connotations?)
An item on the Radio 4 "Broadcasting House" programme on Sunday morning vividly illuminated the nature of the already existing coalition in British politics. The item was a short clip of Nick Clegg attempting to take his turn in a Commons Prime Minister's Questions, against a background of oafish barracking from both sides of the House. Apparently this is not a "one off" incident but a regular feature, with both the Labour and Conservative parties combining to unsettle, ridicule, silence the legitimate representative of a substantial portion of democratic opinion. "Get off our patch," they are both saying. "This is our territory and there's no room for you, regardless of how many votes you have."
There is nothing new in this. In the early 80s I was coordinator of the Liberal campaign in the election for the West Yorkshire County Council. At the count it turned out to be a bad night for the Tories, with many of their seats falling to Labour. "You must be very disappointed," I said to my opposite number in the Conservative party. "Not at all," she replied. "It will be our turn next."
As it happened there wasn't a "next time" as Mrs Thatcher didn't like the result either and so abolished the Council, along with the GLC. However, the story illustrates the complacency engendered by two party politics, and the desperate coalition between Labour and the Conservatives, in the parliamentary bear garden and hundreds of other instances, to keep the political arena reserved for themselves and obstruct any one else, be they Liberal Democrat, Green , UKIP or whatever, from entering the field.
We shan't be able to stop the interviewers from badgering Nick Clegg as to what he will do in the event of a balanced parliament, but would they please ask the other two parties:
a) about the existing coalition and
b) since they both "agree with Nick" to such a great extent, which parts of Liberal Democrat policy they are prepared to adopt to gain our support?