Cameron plans second coalition, or does he?

The Daily Telegraph is reporting today that David Cameron is planning for a second coalition with the Liberal Democrats.

The Prime Minister has held private talks with Cabinet ministers over new Conservative Party rules which would make it easier to strike another deal.

This is all very sensible. In the absolute monarchy mitigated by occasional regicide that is the Conservative Party, tighter rules to clamp down on the backbench naysayers to a coalition would be very prudent, just in case.

Under the plans, backbench Tories would be consulted on the new power-sharing agreement with the final text being put to them in a vote.

Oh hang on. This looks like the first stage of the Liberal Democrats’ Triple Lock. This is an opportunity for the party to block an embryonic coalition from forming in the first place. It is not so much planning a coalition, as planning for one.

There was no formal consultation [on the coalition agreement] with Conservative MPs or members, something that some ministers believe has encouraged dissent among backbenchers. Conservative whips estimate that at least 30 of the party’s 304 MPs are “irreconcilables”, having never accepted the coalition deal with the Lib Dems and not feeling obliged to support Mr Cameron.

The Tory Cabinet minister said senior Conservatives are studying the Lib Dem approach to agreeing a deal. “[The Lib Dems] had meeting after meeting about the deal. Yes, it took a bit longer, but it meant that every one of them was actively signed up to the Coalition, and that’s meant they’ve been quite disciplined, all things considered,” the minister said.

I do wonder whether the coalition agreement we have would have survived this process. Cameron is clearly more tractable than the “irreconcilables”, but, perhaps more importantly, he may not have survived as leader to a second general election, which may have delivered a majority to a more hardline Conservative leader. Should this situation recur, rejecting any coalition agreement would be a no-brainer for many hardline Tories.

Yes, clearly more buy-in from the parliamentary party would be good for Tory party management, but might not a narrow majority lead to a more polarised and restless party?

The Daily Mail also covers the story here suggesting that

David Cameron is plotting to make Tory MPs sign a new coalition with the Liberal Democrats, it was claimed last night.

How dastardly! But just 4 years ago, it was unthinkable for the Conservatives or Labour to contemplate coalition, never mind make rules or write manifestos that anticipate that possibility. This is a profound culture change, and it should be no surprise that the Mail and Telegraph are so uncomfortable with it. Will we see anything similar from Labour?

Read more by or more about or .
This entry was posted in News.
Bookmark the web address for this page or use the short url http://ldv.org.uk/35791 for Twitter and emails.

29 Comments

  • Alisdair McGregor 19th Aug '13 - 11:09am

    Of course, the coalition agreement as it stands may not have been negotiated if the Tories had been able to say “we won’t be able to get the Conservative Parliamentary Party to agree to that”.

    As it was, their position that whatever Cameron & his inner circle said would go, and that was that, weakened their negotiating position.

    So make no mistake – this is not simply an attempt to get the Tory Backbenchers signed up to support a future coalition deal. It’s also an attempt to strengthen Cameron’s negotiating position in the event of a hung parliament.

  • I am sure Labour are even more split on this. It was clear in 2010 that a large influential sector of Labour would only grudgingly tolerate Lib Dems as lobby fodder. This is borne out by the familiar accusation that Lib Dems are turncoats, stooges or Tories in the first place.

    On the other hand, I fail to see anything more than the remotest possibility of a coalition with the Tories. Our vote is likely to be down: this will make it more difficult to defend a continuation. In any case many Lib Dems including myself would have no appetite for another coalition with a fundamentally unprogressive party.

    It will be difficult. I hope on the Lib Dem side there is plenty of creative thought being exercised towards how the Party would cope with a minority administration.

  • Labour managed to form coalitions with the Lib Dems in Scotland and Wales quite comfortably so I’m not sure it’s really necessary that they need to do what the Tory party is doing.

    Of more interest would be the Lib Dems expressing a preferred coalition partner and drawing up a manifesto to reflect this.

    It doesn’t seem particularly wise, post 2010, to ask the electorate to vote for you if they don’t know what other party they may get in return.

  • Frank Little – all this speculation is based on the voters not delivering a verdict at all.

  • “Of more interest would be the Lib Dems expressing a preferred coalition partner and drawing up a manifesto to reflect this.
    It doesn’t seem particularly wise, post 2010, to ask the electorate to vote for you if they don’t know what other party they may get in return.”

    Statistically, a hung parliament is unlikely enough. A hung parliament in which the Lib Dems/Liberals have a choice of which party to go into coalition with hasn’t happened since the 1920s. The Lib Dems should be talking about hung parliaments and coalitions as little as possible – and they certainly shouldn’t be alienating 30-40% of the electorate by expressing a preference relative to a situation that almost certainly won’t arise. On the contrary, “We had no choice” is the best line to follow in defending what has been done since 2010 (not that it’s strictly true, because there was the possibility of a ‘supply and confidence’ agreement rather than a coalition).

  • Of course Cameron is iwants another coalition. Governments lose votes in power. He knows he can’t win outright and his party is split. The problem is that a formal coalition pact might on decreasing Lib Dem Vote would look a bit iffy.

  • Chris, statistically a hung parliament may be unlikely, but a Lib Dem majority is even more unlikely. So, why draw up a manifesto that assumes solely the latter?

  • “Chris, statistically a hung parliament may be unlikely, but a Lib Dem majority is even more unlikely. So, why draw up a manifesto that assumes solely the latter?”

    It’s a fair question in a way, but expressing a preference for one major party or the other would alienate so many people that it’s obviously a bad idea – particularly when it’s so unlikely that the party would have any choice about which to support.

  • Tony Greaves 19th Aug '13 - 3:29pm

    All this assumes that there will be more than a dozen or 20 LD MPs, which at the moment looks unlikely, We are sailing along into at least temporary oblivion. and no-one at the top of the party seems to have the slightest idea of what to do about it (or even the slightest wish to think about it).

    Tony Greaves

  • @Tony Greaves: But haven’t you heard? A solid majority of Liberal Democrat members believe the party is “on the right course”! While concurrently agreeing that the party will lose substantial numbers of seats in 2015.

  • Chris,

    expressing a preference for one major party or the other would alienate so many people that it’s obviously a bad idea – particularly when it’s so unlikely that the party would have any choice about which to support.

    How is the non-tribal Lib Dem floating voter going to assess the advantages and disadvantages of voting Lib Dem if they won’t say who they are prepared to work with, and what they are prepared to compromise to do so?

    Arguably that was the big mistake in 2010.

  • Clear Thinker 19th Aug '13 - 4:03pm

    @Tony Greaves – what do you suggest should be done about it?

  • Alisdair McGregor 19th Aug '13 - 4:18pm

    @Tony Greaves – I’ll bet you a pint there will be at least 40 LibDem MPs elected at the 2015 General Election.

  • Tony Dawson 19th Aug '13 - 4:42pm

    @Alisdair McGregor:

    ” I’ll bet you a pint there will be at least 40 LibDem MPs elected at the 2015 General Election.”

    So that would be only losing one in three of our present MPs. Whoopee!!

    There was this bloke who was going to double our representation in Parliament.. . . . . .

    ‘Clear Thinker’, I think Tony Greaves is suggesting that anyone at the helm of our Party who is not a ‘clear thinker’ about Party Strategy, including a sensible Coalition endgame, should remove themselves from that situation.

  • Tony Dawson 19th Aug '13 - 4:45pm

    @Joe Otten

    “It was explained thousands of times, and then we did exactly what we had explained we would do. Have I missed something here?”

    Yes. This has no resonance whatsoever with 98 per cent of the voting public who are interested not just in what you achieved of your own plans but also what you allowed of other people’s plans. If the latter seems to them to affect them more than the former then it is the latter which the public remembers. :-(

  • Clear Thinker 19th Aug '13 - 5:33pm

    @Tony Dawson. But there are so many different ways of thinking clearly! How can one tell who is who? :-)

  • “How is the non-tribal Lib Dem floating voter going to assess the advantages and disadvantages of voting Lib Dem if they won’t say who they are prepared to work with, and what they are prepared to compromise to do so?”

    I don’t really think there’s any point the Lib Dems claiming there are issues they won’t compromise on. Few are likely to believe them, considering they broke the signed pledge on tuition fees.

    Obviously the party will be in a very difficult position in 2015, and it’s difficult to see how it can be made better. But I’m afraid what you’re suggesting would almost certainly make it worse.

  • David Allen 19th Aug '13 - 6:16pm

    “Will we see anything similar from Labour?” says The Voice, disdainfully.

    Breathtaking! Turn to the foot of the recent Linda Jack thread, and you will see Simon Hebditch proposing to get some discussions going with Labour on just this question. You will see a representative of The Voice pooh-poohing his proposal as emanating from an unrepresentative faction. You will then see yours truly asking why, if that is the case, the Party would not be well advised to get some discussions going on a representative, official basis. You will see no answer to that (after a day, anyway) from The Voice.

    Sure, Labour have issues. However, for this party to turn its back on the possibility of centre-left government, and then blame everybody but itself, would reach a new low in hypocrisy.

  • Do the Lib Dems really want to get back into bed with a government behaving like this?

    http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2013/aug/19/david-miranda-schedule7-danger-reporters

  • Alisdair McGregor 20th Aug '13 - 12:21am

    @stewart
    Please read this blog piece – http://leadinglines.blogspot.co.uk/2013/08/schedule-7-of-terrorism-act-2000-is.html

    THIS government has already introduced a bill to stop that from happening.

    The LAST LABOUR government were the ones who introduced the Terrorism Act 2000

  • Alisdair

    Yes, and we all agree the last Labour Government was far too prepared to ride roughshod over civil liberties – although in the wake of 9/11 I think they were carried along by that old ‘need to be seen to be doing something’ mantra and I do not think any UK Government would have done anything differently. The Tories, as a party, have never been reknowned for their support of civil liberties either.

    The problem is that this has happened under the current Government and it seems unlikely that this was a random occurrence. If you, as I, think that the law has been abused then we should know who gave the okay to detain him and who knew about it. If there was any involvement at Government level then that person should be named.

    The excuse ‘Labour introduced this and anyway they were worse’ is not a good position to take on an individual case – that is for election time.

  • Matthew Huntbach 20th Aug '13 - 10:40am

    Chris

    I don’t really think there’s any point the Lib Dems claiming there are issues they won’t compromise on. Few are likely to believe them, considering they broke the signed pledge on tuition fees.

    Yes. We should really learn the lesson from this. If we label some policy position as something we will not compromise on, what we are in effect saying is that if the other parties oppose it we will make the country ungovernable by refusing to support a coalition unless we have our way on it. Or, to put it another way, we are saying that here is a policy which only we support and we didn’t get many votes, but nevertheless we are going to try and force it on the country.

    The lesson from the tuition fees fiasco for the rest of the country OUGHT to have been “if you want Liberal Democrat policies, you have to vote Liberal Democrat”. Too few people did vote Liberal Democrat in 2010, with the result there were only 57 Liberal Democrat MPs out of 650 MPs in total. For some weird reason, a year later the people of this country decided to punish the Liberal Democrats for the way the distortions of the electoral system weakened their influence by backing that electoral system after a campaign in which its supports put this distortion and its consequent weakening of the Liberal Democrats and strengthening of the largest party as its best feature.

    The claim that the Liberal Democrats could just block anything by voting against it falls on the grounds that politics works by balance, stopping one thing means continuing something else. Subsidised university tuition is balanced by taxes to pay for it. If you block cutting them, you have to say what taxes you will raise to pay for them. Conservative MPs elected on a low-tax manifesto could equally say that it is fundamentally against what they promised in their manifesto to support tax increases, and respond by blocking anything the Liberal Democrats might propose to pay for what we want. That indeed is what has happened, and it happens because the people of this country decided to elect five time as many Conservative MPs as Liberal Democrats.

  • Matthew.
    The point with the tuition fees is that they were all over the media signing the tuition fees pledge and thus could simply have voted against the increase or even abstain. Instead they voted for it. Not enough people voted for the Tories either. It was not a cornerstone Tory policy. It was really just a piece of fiscal posturing to look tough on cuts. I don’t think the general population would have been up in arms about not being allowed to pay triple the level of the old fees.It should have been very clear that this was a no go area as part of the coalition agreement. Terrible PR, disaster made the Lib Dem leadership look shifty. IMO rhe coalition agreement was signed in haste and should have been given another day or so at the very least.

    But it’s been gone over a billion times.

  • Matthew Huntbach 21st Aug '13 - 11:20am

    Glenn

    The point with the tuition fees is that they were all over the media signing the tuition fees pledge and thus could simply have voted against the increase or even abstain. Instead they voted for it. Not enough people voted for the Tories either. It was not a cornerstone Tory policy. It was really just a piece of fiscal posturing to look tough on cuts.

    Sure, the problem for the Liberal Democrats was that this was not just one of many policies, it was the key policy, the one singled out for this pledge-signing publicity, and also one where there was a specific promise to vote AGAINST something, which can only be interpreted as a statement that it would be the sticking point in coalition. All this was bad planning – if you are going to do this sort of pledge thing, you must make absolutely sure you can keep to it under all possible outcomes.

    However, to write it off as just “fiscal posturing” ignores the extent to which it involves real money. Voting against the tuition fee increase would mean stating just where you would get the money to spend on the subsidies. We have had plenty of attacks from the Labour Party on the Liberal Democrats over tuition fees, but I don’t recall any Labour Party spokesperson saying what taxes they would have raised to avoid them had they been in government, or what they will do if they get back. The default would just be to increase state borrowing to do it. The reality is that the loan system introduced is just an arms-length way of doing this anyway. Had it been paid by direct state borrowing it would have involved much the same people paying back much the same money as under the full tuition fees and loan system.

  • David White 21st Aug '13 - 3:23pm

    Today’s ‘Guardian’ states that the average of all the latest opinion polls suggest that, were an election to be held immediately, NewLab would have a majority of 84. Therefore, I am tempted to ask: what coalition?

    But, were the real election to provide another hung parliament, I hope to God that our 23 MPs, led by Tim Farron, would refuse to enter into another unholy alliance with the frightful (and frightening) OldCon.

    If any of my views are regarded as heretical, please bear in mind that I describe myself as being on the anarcho-syndicalist wing of our great(ish) party.

Post a Comment

Lib Dem Voice welcomes comments from everyone but we ask you to be polite, to be on topic and to be who you say you are. You can read our comments policy in full here. Please respect it and all readers of the site.

If you are a member of the party, you can have the Lib Dem Logo appear next to your comments to show this. You must be registered for our forum and can then login on this public site with the same username and password.

Your email is never published. Required fields are marked *

*
*
Please complete the name of this site, Liberal Democrat ...?




Recent Comments

  • User AvatarRichard 22nd Sep - 12:47pm
    "Last week, we had the inspiring example of the Scottish referendum with the highest turnout of any poll there for sixty years... So, what are...
  • User AvatarDavid Allen 22nd Sep - 12:43pm
    I said “The English Parliament is designed to supplant Westminster (which will gradually wither on the vine)”, and Sesenco replied: "That cannot happen. That is...
  • User AvatarDavid Allen 22nd Sep - 12:35pm
    Bill le Breton said: "Fast tracking English Votes for English Laws can be portrayed as protecting the privileges of the Westminster elite, but obviously holding...
  • User AvatarLawrence Fullick 22nd Sep - 12:32pm
    A good contribution to the debate is Tomothy Garton Ash's piece dated 21 September, probably in today's Guardian.
  • User AvatarDavid Allen 22nd Sep - 12:23pm
    Glenn said (and others echoed): "I’ve heard variation on the Tories will barnstorm into power if we do this or don’t that for years. The...
  • User AvatarNeil Sandison 22nd Sep - 12:18pm
    I think Wayne suggestions are in te right direction but to get there we need to strenghen the Localism Act n terms of trigger referendums...