He said during the election that the party with the largest mandate given by the people should have the first opportunity to form a government either on its own or with other parties. Now that we know the results, it's pretty blindingly obvious that is the Conservatives, both in terms of seats and votes. Nobody can argue with that. It might pain us deeply, but it's a fact.
Nick squarely put the ball in David Cameron's court by saying that it was up to him to show that the Conservatives were capable of governing in the national interest. He is keeping to his word and, as Paddy Ashdown said, he has shown that he can be trusted. Let's see if the others can match up to his constructive and open behaviour.
This is a statement that is open to wilful misinterpretation by others, so for the avoidance of doubt, here it is all here:
Last night was a disappointment for the Liberal Democrats. Even though more people voted for us than ever before, even though we had a higher proportion of the vote than ever before, it is of course a source of great regret to me that we have lost some really valued friends and colleagues and we have returned to Parliament with fewer MPs than before.
Many, many people during the election campaign were excited about the prospect of doing something different, but it seems that when they came to vote, many of them, in the end, decided to stick with what they knew best. And at a time of great economic uncertainty, I totally understand those feelings. But that’s not going to stop me from redoubling my efforts and our efforts to show that real change is the best reassurance that things can get better for people and their families, that it shouldn’t be something which unsettles people.
Now we’re in a very fluid political situation with no party enjoying an absolute majority. As I’ve said before, it seems to me in a situation like this, it’s vital that all political parties, all political leaders, act in the national interest, and not out of narrow party political advantage. I’ve also said that whichever party gets the most votes and the most seats, if not an absolute majority, has the first right to seek to govern, either on its own or by reaching out to other parties, and I stick to that view. It seems this morning that it’s the Conservative party that has more votes and more seats, though not an absolute majority, and that is why I think it is now for the Conservative party to prove that it is capable of seeking to govern in the national interest. At the same time, this election campaign has made it abundantly clear that our electoral system is broken, it simply doesn’t reflect the hopes and aspirations of the British people, so I repeat again my assurance, that whatever happens in the coming hours and days and weeks, I will continue to argue not only for the greater fairness in British society, not only the greater responsibility in economic policy making, but also for the extensive, real reforms that we need to fix our broken political system. Thank you very much.