Support 100 years of independent journalism.

  1. Business
  2. Economics
11 May 2010

Osborne: Tory minority government is not an option

Shadow chancellor says the Tories cannot remain in government without the support of the Lib Dems.

By George Eaton

Until recently, we have all assumed that there are four possible outcomes of the current talks: a Lab-Lib coalition, a Con-Lib coalition, a “confidence and supply” arrangement beween the Tories and the Lib Dems, and a minority Conservative government.

We can now remove the last of those options from the list. George Osborne has just become the first senior Tory to rule out a minority government.

In an interview on the Today programme, he said:

I keep reading about this option and I’m afraid it doesn’t really exist. We can’t just turn up at Buckingham Palace and say we’d like to form a minority government. We would need the consent of the Liberal Democrats to form a minority government.

Select and enter your email address Quick and essential guide to domestic and global politics from the New Statesman's politics team. A weekly newsletter helping you fit together the pieces of the global economic slowdown. The New Statesman’s global affairs newsletter, every Monday and Friday. The best of the New Statesman, delivered to your inbox every weekday morning. The New Statesman’s weekly environment email on the politics, business and culture of the climate and nature crises - in your inbox every Thursday. Our weekly culture newsletter – from books and art to pop culture and memes – sent every Friday. A weekly round-up of some of the best articles featured in the most recent issue of the New Statesman, sent each Saturday. A newsletter showcasing the finest writing from the ideas section and the NS archive, covering political ideas, philosophy, criticism and intellectual history - sent every Wednesday. Sign up to receive information regarding NS events, subscription offers & product updates.
  • Administration / Office
  • Arts and Culture
  • Board Member
  • Business / Corporate Services
  • Client / Customer Services
  • Communications
  • Construction, Works, Engineering
  • Education, Curriculum and Teaching
  • Environment, Conservation and NRM
  • Facility / Grounds Management and Maintenance
  • Finance Management
  • Health - Medical and Nursing Management
  • HR, Training and Organisational Development
  • Information and Communications Technology
  • Information Services, Statistics, Records, Archives
  • Infrastructure Management - Transport, Utilities
  • Legal Officers and Practitioners
  • Librarians and Library Management
  • Management
  • Marketing
  • OH&S, Risk Management
  • Operations Management
  • Planning, Policy, Strategy
  • Printing, Design, Publishing, Web
  • Projects, Programs and Advisors
  • Property, Assets and Fleet Management
  • Public Relations and Media
  • Purchasing and Procurement
  • Quality Management
  • Science and Technical Research and Development
  • Security and Law Enforcement
  • Service Delivery
  • Sport and Recreation
  • Travel, Accommodation, Tourism
  • Wellbeing, Community / Social Services
I consent to New Statesman Media Group collecting my details provided via this form in accordance with the Privacy Policy

Osborne’s remarks confirm that the Lib Dems will have to strike a deal with either Labour or the Tories. There is no walking away.

Now, this may just be a negotiating position, but the arithmetic is still against the Conservatives. A Tory minority government, assuming the support of the Democratic Unionist Party, could muster 315 seats in the Commons. Excluding Sinn Fein, that would leave it six seats short of a majority. The Conservatives could be voted down regularly by the progressive majority in the House and would struggle to pass Osborne’s planned emergency Budget.

It is hard to imagine the Tories, so fond of “the smack of firm government”, entering power on these terms.

Special offer: get 12 issues of the New Statesman for just £5.99 plus a free copy of “Liberty in the Age of Terror” by A C Grayling.