Friday 7 May 2010

Would a Lib-Tory pact be Cameron's clause four moment - or Nick Clegg's?

I do not believe that David Cameron will, finally, put together a coalition with the Liberal Democrats, despite hinting very clearly that he would prefer a deeper arrangement than 'supply and confidence'. It is almost impossible to see how a Conservative-LibDem government can have a European policy - and that can not be confined to "foreign policy" as it impacts many areas of government policymaking on a daily basis. The mutual suspicion on this issue is too great.

Preferring the minimal cooperation necessary has seemed to be hard-wired into the instinctive responses of British political parties in the post-war period. So David Cameron's instinct to suggest he favours deeper cooperation was interesting - not least because his backbenches, grassroots and the blogosphere are mobilising anxiously against this idea. (Unlike their LibDem counterparts, Tory MPs and activists are unlikely to be given a say). It has often been noted that Cameron has backed away from any substantive conflict with his own party.

Were it to happen, perhaps a full-blown Tory-LibDem coalition would give him a "clause four moment" in committing himself to a more centrist approach than his party wants.

Yet any LibDem-Tory deal, whether supply and confidence or full coalition, would also surely involve something of a clause four moment for Nick Clegg too.

For the next decade, he would be taking his party on a significant transition from his description this year of it as a competitor with Labour in a realigned centre-left of British politics, where he describes the Conservatives as the LibDems' political and intellectual enemies, to a partner in power with the centre-right.

Perhaps Clegg's new rather more Orange Book LibDems would then become rather more of a continental liberal party, along the lines of the German FDP which currently shares power in Angela Merkel's centre-right government. And it would surely change their electoral and political approach too.

1 comment:

Sosialisten said...

So if the Liberal Democrats where to become like the German FDP, I guess they would also take their size, somewhere around 10-15%. And the Tories would have to become Christian Democrats and not conservatives!