AS WESTMINSTER commentators become more and more convinced that no party will have an overall majority after the general election, it may be worth looking at recent events in Scotland, where voters had decided that parties must work together.
The SNP Scottish government has no overall majority in the Scottish Parliament, so must secure support from at least two other parties to pass its budget.
The SNP had to negotiate with the Liberal Democrats, the Greens, the Tories and even Labour.
There was no panic and no parties merged with any other.
All the opposition parties said what they wanted (Lib Dems wanted more money for college places and action on public sector pay, the Tories wanted an independent budget review and more transparency on spending, Labour wanted the Glasgow airport rail link restored).
The result? The SNP administration responded enough to obtain sufficient agreement to pass a budget.
Despite the nay-sayers' claims that balanced - or hung - parliaments are disastrous, the result was more mature politics than we have seen in Westminster.
It better reflected what the public actually wants than when one Westminster party, elected by a minority of voters, simply rams through its own programme.
This process is also repeated in town halls across the country, as the growing strength of the Liberal Democrats breaks the monopoly usually held by Labour or the Tories.
Britain needs the same change at Westminster.
DIRK HAZELL Chelsea and Fulham Liberal Democrat parliamentary spokesman