Saturday, May 07, 2011

How to run a coalition ( or wag the dog)

Interesting article by Julian Astle in his Daily Telegraph blog. Broadly he says there's the Clegg approach so far - we own everything the government does -, the Toryphobic approach - we hate everything the government does - or there's Chris Huhne's third way - critical support. He warns that this approach must not damage the good reputation of coalition politics. We must break the perceived link between coalitions and weak, fractious, ineffective government.

I doubt that this perception exists among voters in the UK today. Nobody remembers what coalitions are like. The last one, Churchill's wartime coalition was unpopular at the time but seen as strong and indeed victorious in retrospect. The problem is deeper than any hazy preconceptions of coalition. Voters want various contradictory things from politicians, e.g. good quality services AND low taxes. They also want politicians to be honest AND not to bicker. Perhaps this is not impossible if the arguments are about the product - the policies - instead of the usual political row about the process - who said what to whom and when and you did this, you said this etc.

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