British newspapers urge swift election pact

8th May 2010, Comments 0 comments

British newspapers Saturday said Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg held the role of kingmaker after inconclusive general elections and urged him to seal a power-sharing pact without delay.

But the daily papers were divided on whether the third-party chief should side with the main opposition Conservatives, who won the most seats and votes, or Prime Minister Gordon Brown's Labour Party.

They did also not rule out Conservative leader David Cameron going it alone with a minority government -- but stressed that Britain needed a legitimate administration as soon as possible to tackle its debt problems.

The Financial Times said a Tory-Lib Dem pact offered the best hope of stability, because it was the only plausible combination.

"With the Greek sovereign debt crisis threatening to spill across Europe, it is no time for the parties to bicker and jockey for position.

"Speed is of the essence. It should be possible to reach a deal over the weekend. If not, a Tory minority government would be the logical alternative."

The Times said Cameron had earned the moral right to govern and that Clegg should take his offer of a tie-up seriously while Brown should get out of the way.

The Labour leader "cannot remain as prime minister", while Clegg "has a difficult calculation to make".

"The Lib Dems have always claimed to want power, although they have often seemed to revel in the comparative luxury of opposition."

The Sun took a humorous approach with a front page "property scandal" involving a Scottish squatter called Gordon Brown who was refusing to budge from 10 Downing Street, "denying entry to its rightful tenant".

"Gordon Brown's shameless posturing shows his contempt for voters," the tabloid said.

The most-read daily said the Liberals "will never get a better offer of a serious role in government. David Cameron's invitation is their chance of a lifetime. They should seize it."

The "shambolic and shaming polling day scenes" of people unable to vote "made Britain look like tinpot Zimbabwe", it added.

The Guardian, saying an opportunity had arisen from the confusion, urged Labour and the Liberals to team up.

Brown, having faced his first general election as party leader, "now has a mandate to share power, though not to govern alone, which he lacked before".

"In multi-party politics, pacts between parties that speak for a majority of voters are always legitimate.

"This weekend, Labour and the Liberal Democrats should strike a fixed-term deal to secure the economic recovery, assure the markets about key spending plans and hold an early referendum on electoral reform, with a general election on the new system to follow."

The Daily Mirror, the only daily which backed Labour, said Clegg should plump for Brown's offer of electoral reform and would "never be forgiven" if he did not.

The "tug of love" between Brown and Cameron over Clegg "will determine the future of our country after the most exciting, unpredictable general election in decades", it said.

Labour and the Liberals have a mandate to change British politics for the better, while "bleating Mr Cameron has no God-given right to be prime minister".

© 2010 AFP

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