Labour woos Liberal Democrats in bid to retain power

May 7th, 2010 - 10:33 am ICT by IANS  

London, May 7 (IANS) Labour seemed to be reaching out to the Liberal Democrats in an apparent last ditch bid to retain power with a senior Labour leader saying he has “no problem in principle in trying to supply this country with a strong and stable government”.
Soon after balloting came to an end, Lord Mandelson, Labour’s election director, said: “There has to be electoral reform because clearly first past the post is on its last legs.”

“The constitutional conventions are very clear. The rules are that if it’s a hung parliament, it’s not the party with the largest number of seats that has first go - it’s the sitting government,” The Telegraph quoted Mandelson as saying.

On whether he would seek an alliance with the Liberal Democrats, he categorically said: “I have no problem in principle in trying to supply this country with a strong and stable government.”

Foreign Secretary David Miliband observed that the exit poll showed no party can have a “monopoly of power” and voters have given politicians “an injunction to talk to each other” to see if “strong and stable” government could be achieved.

“One point that is very important is that if no party has a majority in the House of Commons, then no party has the right to power. Obviously, we have to wait until the end of the night. If no party has a majority, no party has a moral right to power.”

Exit polls released after polling stations closed Thursday evening predicted a hung parliament, in which neither of Britain’s two main parties would gain an overall majority.

The exit polls, based on surveys of 18,000 voters, showed a disappointing outcome for the Liberal Democrats, whose leader Nick Clegg had been declared the undisputed star of the four-week election campaign.

The exit polls gave the David Cameron-led Conservatives 307 seats, 19 short of an outright majority. The Labour Party would win 255 seats, compared with 356 in 2005, and the Liberals were given 59 seats, remaining behind expectations.

On the possibility of a hung parliament, Labour’s election coordinator, Douglas Alexander, said: “Ultimately you need to be able to command a majority in the House of Commons. It will be for us to decide - along with every other party - what is the best way forward as these results play themselves out.”

Conservatives didn’t take kindly to the suggestion that Labour was willing to try and forge a deal with the Liberal Democrats that would keep them out of power.

“It’s pretty clear that Labour cannot continue in government. Labour ministers need to get real. I find it extraordinary listening to these Labour politicians,” George Osborne, the shadow chancellor, was quoted as saying.

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