Print Friendly and PDF
only search

UK Election: Clegg's Lib Dem options - a decision tree

Negotiations are hard things because they have so many moving parts. For those following the UK election here's a wiki-map decision theory approach to Clegg's choice. Conclusion: do a deal with the Tories today, do a PR deal with the rainbow coalition in 1 year. (Please go in and change the map where I've got it wrong)

Game theory says you need to understand your "outside options": what the alternative to a deal with this group is. How well you do depends on how good you can make all the outside options. Here's a go at the decision tree Clegg faces.

It's a wikimap, so feel free to add your view of it or tease out more or different conclusions from mine.

The logic of my version is:

  • A deal with Labour now is unlikely to deliver PR, which is what would make it worthwhile from LD's point of view
  • A deal with Tories will not deliver PR
  • A Tory minority government risks giving Tories a majority in 9 months and missing the historic moment
  • Clegg will be very tempted to do a deal with the Tories with inbuilt failure so that LD's can return to a PR negotiation with other parties in 9 months
  • Present that deal as stesman-like: "The economic crisis demands it, and I will not make the country suffer for PR ... but once the economy is on the mend, I will insist on my PR reward"

About the author

Tony Curzon Price was Editor-in-Chief of openDemocracy from 2007 to 2012, where he is now contributing editor and technical director. He blogs at