Tuesday, December 28, 2010

 

Now Coalition Doesn't Seem Such a Good Idea

In May this year the notion of coalition commanded quite a degree of support. A political culture in which narrow partisanship seemed to be central to the anti-politics mood, apparently welcomed a situation in which parties cooperated for the national good. However, that mood seems to have changed. Back then nearly 60% supported the coalition while 32% did not. According to the latest Guardian poll, the figures now have slumped to 43% in support with 47% opposing.

Moreover, Labour support has hit 39%, the highest for three years- with Ed Miliband scarcely wowing the voters just yet. Conservative ratings have increased too but only by 1% from November up to 37%. The poor old Liberal Democrats bump along at 13%, 11 points below their general election showing. While a solid majority of Tory voters from May support the coalition, Lib Dem voters offer only a sliver compared with those who now oppose. Poor Nick Clegg has been demonized for leading his party into its great leap in the dark and there is little sign of things improving yet awhile.

Indeed, Clegg has taken advice from foreign politicians familiar with coalition government. Lousewies van der Laan has proffered useful advice in a recent seminar he organised to improve his party's understanding of this new coalition beast. Here is a sample of the advice given.

Do keep the party on board. (Regularly give the party line to take to the party faithful, who always get the microphones.)

"Do exude self confidence, stay in your strength, make it clear that you have nothing to hide.

"Do listen to constructive advice, but tell complainers to come up with alternatives. Stay relaxed with bad polls – it is all par for the course.

"Do keep focusing on the common goals; remember why you got in in the first place.

In her final rule she states: "Atmospherics count both internally and externally: make sure personal relations are good and reliable."


The party is doing what it can to calm down the party in the country by stressing how successful it has been in achieving 67 May manifesto commitments. But more important will be the May local elections, the occasion when the Lib Dem future will be put searchingly to the test with 1.830 seats to defend, compared with Labour's 1,600 and the Tories 5000. By then we'll see if this coalition government really can stay the course or if it will fizzle out en route to its favoured 2015 destination

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