The final results are in, and the UK has no clear winner in the general election. The Conservatives ended up with 305 seats, Labour 258 and the Lib Dems on 57 (other parties got 28 sears in parliament). This has been a disappointing night mostly for the Lib Dems who gained little from what seemed to be a highly energizing campaign.
The Tories are the single largest party and have been given first dibs on building a coalition government with the Lib Dems. Cameron has made a public offer to Clegg that includes the following (via the Guardian):
• An all-party committee of inquiry on electoral reform –
although Cameron also stressed that he was committed to first past the
post, which the Liberal Democrats want scrapped.
• He ruled out
any further expansion of the EU or adopting any of the Liberal
Democrats' policies on immigration – which include an amnesty for
illegal immigrants – or scrapping Trident.
• He said it was
"reasonable to expect" that the bulk of the Conservative manifesto
should be adopted.
• But he would back the Lib Dems' pupil premium
system to reward schools that teach pupils from disadvantaged
backgrounds. He would also back low carbon economy initiatives and
scrapping ID cards.
• He said there was agreement that Labour's
plans to increase national insurance, which the Tories have described as
a "damaging tax on jobs", would be reversed by a Lib-Con coalition.
Cameron said he wanted to reach an agreement with the Lib Dems
I'm highly skeptical that the Lib Dems will want to jump in bed with the Tories given Cameron's refusal to budge on Europe, nuclear weapons systems and the deficit. Token policies like 'premium pupils' and scrapping ID cards won't do much to entice Clegg who campaigned on the premise of serious change and a fairer society. The Tories have absolutely no interest in making Britain a fairer society - their policies are kind to big business and harsh on the working poor, two major issues the progressive Liberals will not be able to stomach.
The Labour Party must now realize that Gordon Brown's tenure as prime minister is over. I would imagine that people in the party will speak to Clegg and reassure him that if they make a deal, Brown will step down in the coming months paving the way for a new leader. If they can concede on enough policy to make the Lib Dems happy, I can't see why they wouldn't go for it. They can claim an allegiance to progressive politics and sticking to their core values while vastly increasing their power despite a pretty awful performance.