Sunday, 24 April 2011

In Defence of the Coalition

It would not surprise anyone to know that I am not a fan of the Lib Dems, and especially of their passion for taking political advantage out of any situation.  However, I am also understanding of the reasons for a coalition Government given the outcome of last year's General Election.

One aspect of a coalition that I don't think is understood is the inevitably of tensions and differences, such as we are seeing at the moment over AV.  Mature coalition Government and mature media has to recognise this and accept that those tensions are sometimes going to break out in the open.  Just because it does, should not continuously lead to commentary about the end of the coalition, it should, instead, be interpreted and accepted as an inevitable part of it how it operates.

I am absolutely clear about the need for a No vote in the referendum.  As are almost all of my Conservative colleagues.  The one thing that does bother me is that the Lib Dems will use the outcome of the referendum as an excuse to get rid of Nick Clegg and to end the coalition.  It will be a mistake in my opinion.  Much as I disagree with electoral reform, Nick Clegg has taken the Lib Dems closer to changing the electoral system than any previous Lib Dem leader.  To get so close and fail may not be perfect, but it will be better than any of his predecessors managed.  That would not have happened without him or the coalition.

Lib Dems also need to understand the implications of such a decision.  If it forced a general election, the end result could be to put the deficit denying Labour Party in power again.  That would be a disaster for our Country, not least because it would come about because of a collapse in the Lib Dem vote; people don't vote for divided parties (yes, I know they are currently polling at a disastrous 10% - but leaving will potentially make that even worse).

I suspect that latter issue is what will make the difference - Lib Dems will always do what is best for them electorally, rather than what is best for the Country.

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