Monday, 17 January 2011

The ‘Brokeback Coalition’, is it for real?

When the Conservative party formed a coalition government with the Liberal Democrats after the May 2010 election failed to supply Tories with their much desired majority, I don’t think any of us quite expected the public ‘bromance’ between David Cameron and Nick Clegg which blossomed almost immediately afterwards. Despite casually insulting each other and their party’s policies throughout the election campaign, with Cameron once calling Clegg his ‘favourite joke’, especially on the three live television debates, Cameron and Clegg appeared to immediately put the past behind them and get stuck in on the small matter of running the country.

Although in the public interest this may be, some, including myself may perceive this as a desperate move by the power starved Lib Dem’s, to seize what may be their first and last opportunity to be in power and influence UK government policy. Is the friendship between our Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister built to last, or is it just a ‘friends with benefits’ deal, which is liable to break down when either party’s main principles are significantly compromised? So far, there is no sign of this happening, as the recent bill for the rise in the university tuition fee cap to £9000 has shown that the Lib Dem’s are more than willing to sacrifice their dignity and public support to stay on amicable terms with their coalition partners.

We will never know the exact words exchanged back in May 2010, when Cameron and Clegg sealed the deal and decided to commit to forming first coalition government in 70 years, but one can guess that Cameron’s suggestions were more than likely compromising to the majority of Lib Dem policies. Despite this, it is apparent that the Lib Dem’s are managing to ‘water down’ some of the more right wing policies of the original Conservative manifesto, such as raising the inheritance tax threshold to £1m, which has now been put back, and they will likely hold a referendum on switching to the AV voting system, which was previously opposed by the Tories.

Shunning the criticisms from former shadow home secretary David Davis that this ‘Brokeback Coalition’ is not in the public interest, Cameron and Clegg insist that the phrase does not capture the true spirit of the coalition which is “two separate parties led by two separate leaders, recognising that this country is facing some very difficult short-term challenges”. Only time will tell if this so called ‘sprit’ and enthusiasm for reigniting our economy and bettering our country as a whole can last a full parliamentary term, but so far things are certainly looking promising. There is no doubt in mind my however, that come the next election, whenever that may be, that the popularity of the Liberal Democrats will not compare to that seen in the run up to the 2010 election.

Many thanks to AW for this post.

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