Friday, January 04, 2013

 

Coalition Conflict and the Chances of new Coalitions

A perceptive piece in the Economist, this week delves into the politics of the coalition. It notes how the two parties, once aiming at a 'not just a new government but a new politics', are now openly 'differentiating', no longer trying to pretend they agree, when they so clearly do not:

'The brave new politics has given way to a cold war between the two sides."

But a rather odd feature has emerged. Whilst party members bicker and point accusing fingers on the benches of the Commons, ministers in Whitehall collaborate within a 'strikingly businesslike atmosphere.'

Conflicts are carefully controlled: last year Mr Clegg even discussed his mutiny on boundary change with Mr Cameron before announcing it. In a sense, coalition discord is the opposite of the internal feud that preoccupied the last Labour government. Supporters of Tony Blair and Gordon Brown fought much harder behind the scenes than in public.

According to The Economist, the Lib Dems aim to paint themselves as " ther conscience of the coalition, restraining Tories from 'Looking after the super-rich while ignoring the needs of ordinary people.' For their part Tories blame their partners for the sluggish economy by resisting deregulation and further expenditure cuts. 

This poses the intriguing question of: if Coalition  MPs disagree so desperately with their ministerial leaders, will they break up way before the election? It's possible of course, but this would create a minority Conservative government at the mercy of a probable coalition (yes, that's the word) of Labour and Lib Dem MPs; I doubt they would risk such a consequence so will seek to keep the deal alive until the very alst minute. 

What I do see looming on the political horizon however, is that the Lib Dems and Labour are still ideologically quite close and once they realise they both dislike Tories for being Tories, they might decide to move against Cameron, either before an election or after should there be another hung parliament. Given the possibility that the Lib Dems might disappear after 2015, I would think there is more profit in aligning with Labour before the election.   . 


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