The best approach for Britain’s Conservatives is to make a few gestures in the direction of national unity, but to attempt to govern alone. That is likely to be the only way to create the clarity that will be essential if the Tories are to have a chance of winning the second election that seems inevitable within months.
And as to why that second election is inevitable, there’s no better place to start than this back of the Economist’s envelope:
Think of it a different way, in terms of deficit-cutting. The regional parties will all resist cuts in their areas. if the Conservatives tried to line them up, and cut the deficit at the same time, that would concentrate all the austerity on England, the area where the Conservatives have their strength. (Indeed, if this was just an English election, the Conservatives would easily have a majority. In contrast, the Conservatives are barely represented in Scotland.)
Neither Labour or Libdems want big deficit cuts now and indeed tend to favour tax rises on the wealthy, something the markets won’t like. The anti-austerity parties will have around 344 seats while the Tories, the only party which might try to slash the deficit immediately, will have just 306.