British press piles pressure on Clegg to decide

9th May 2010, Comments 0 comments

Britain's Sunday newspapers said the key to forming a new government after the inconclusive election would depend on how far Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg would bend on electoral reform.

The third-biggest party's key policy commitment is a switch to proportional representation -- which could prove the deciding factor in whether he plumps to back the Conservatives, who topped the polls, or Labour.

The Observer said the Lib Dems must turn to Labour, though Prime Minister Gordon Brown must quit as their leader for it to work.

"Combined, the Liberal Democrats and Labour have the affinity on policy, the electoral mandate and the unique historic opportunity to usher in a new era of fairer, better governance for Britain," they said.

The Independent on Sunday agreed, saying Clegg must hold out for a deal on changing the voting system.

"This may be the greatest gamble Mr Clegg will ever make," it said.

"Bet the house on red and the Lib Dems get what they have wanted for generations: a chance to sweep away a corrupt and discredited system, and maybe, just maybe, win the greatest single change to our constitution in 100 years."

The Mail on Sunday said Britain needed a new government headed by Conservative leader David Cameron "by tonight".

Brown "is a political zombie lurking in a strange twilight between power and oblivion," it said.

"The Liberal Democrats will be badly damaged if they hold up the process by behaving in an opportunist and greedy fashion."

But the News of the World, Britain's most-read newspaper, said of Cameron: "It would be madness, and a huge betrayal of the mandate this country has given him, if he were denied the opportunity to save us from disaster.

"In this delicate ballet, Mr Clegg will realise that he has the greatest chance of tripping up.

"Not surprisingly there are Lib Dems who claim a Tory deal would be a suicide note."

The Sunday Times backed a Conservative-Liberal pact, saying Brown "should no longer be prime minister".

"The Lib Dems should remember that it is better to be inside the tent than outside," it said.

The broadsheet added: "Whether it was the MPs' expenses, an antipathy to politicians or sheer bloody-mindedness, voters have inflicted the ultimate revenge on their leaders."

The Sunday Telegraph said it was vital that the negotiations between the parties came up with the strongest possible government.

"Gordon Brown and Labour have been defeated and discredited; if David Cameron can reach an agreement with the Liberal Democrats it will be a better result for the nation than his attempting to lead a vulnerable minority government through the storms ahead," the broadsheet said.

The Sunday Mirror said the politicians had to ditch their egos and plot a way out of the crisis.

"All the signs point towards another election, probably later this year. An election the parties can't afford to fight and the voters surely don't want to go through."

The Sunday Express said Cameron should "seal the deal" with the Liberals then "go back to the people".

"In the short term, power-sharing would deliver robust leadership for the country when it needs it most," the tabloid said.

"In the longer term there is only one solution: another election."

© 2010 AFP

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