Two recent articles by Paul Waugh and George Eaton argue that the Tories could try this and that it could conceivably work. Waugh's argument goes like this. The 'conventions' about hung parliaments are respected. Brown tries to form a government, but the Lib Dems make it clear they will not support Labour with Brown as PM. So Brown resigns.
Her Majesty, following the conventions, next asks Cameron to form a government. He duly forms a minority government. He then carefully crafts his legislative programme so that it is full of stuff the Lib Dems like. How could they vote it down? And/or he does a load of stuff that doesn't even require legislation.
Perhaps I'm missing something. I'm a philosopher really, not an expert on the UK constitution. But what is to stop Labour and the Lib Dems agreeing the basis for a coalition while Cameron gets going and then joining together to support a motion of no confidence in Cameron? Cameron loses and Her Majesty then calls on Clegg or a new Labour leader - I would think Clegg - to form a coalition government. (Cameron might want an election if ejected in this way, but if there is a clear parliamentary majority ready to support a coalition government, he won't get it.)
Waugh is obviously aware of this possibility. Presumably he thinks the Lib Dems will be mesmerised by the individual pieces of legislation Cameron is offering. But the big prize for the Lib Dems is electoral reform. So long as Cameron fails to offer them that, the basis is there for a deal with Labour and the no confidence motion is a nice little parliamentary device which they can use to kick Cameron out of office at any moment.Still, it is important that the Lib Dems and Labour's pluralists both have the courage to go for this outcome. In this respect, the 'Purple demonstration' planned for London this coming Saturday looks like a vitally important event. Let's get out there and make a big, pro-democracy noise.
Assuming they fail to get a majority of seats, the Tories must not be allowed to indulge the grotesque fantasy that they have somehow won the election - a fantasy they are already trying to float - and that they can block the demand for real reform of the political system.
Stuart White is a tutor in Politics at Jesus College, Oxford and writes at Next Left in a personal capacity. He is not a spokesperson for the Fabian Society.