Yesterday I wrote about the conflicting forces in both the Tory and Labour parties that I thought would make it difficult to get a coalition agreement to work, but I came down on the side of a Lab-LibDem Coalition as being the one of the heart and one that the LibDems shouldn’t pass over as it was a once in a lifetime opportunity to obatin PR. Well, I’d misjudged just how strong the suicide-tendancy in the Labour Party still is. Polly Toynbee writes about it in today’s Guardian – give that a read. The fact of the matter is that although both Tory and old Labour (I am differentiating here) are driven by self-interest, the self-interest of the Labour Party old guard is stronger than than the discipline and perhaps even loyalty of the Tories. They’re also more hungry for power it has to be said.
So will a Tory-LibDem coalition work. I don’t know the outcomes of the discussions and agreement as I write. That’s half the fun of writing this – before the events have fully unfolded. However, I see the commitment to a fixed-term parliament as crucial to the success of the coalition, and to the stability of the government and the political state of the nation.
Unlike the uninformed pronouncements of those in the media I see the single most important thing about getting a fixed-term parliament is that both parties have to work to make the coalition work. Neither party can walk away from the agreement under a fixed-term parliament regime … as I see it. Why is this?
- They would have to explain to the wider electorate why it was in a time of national crisis not in the national interest for the two parties to continue working together. It benefits neither of them to break the coalition.
- If the LibDems were to break the agreement, the Tories would quite rightly lambast them, as would the “bluetop” press and anything they’d achieved in government would be forgotten. Moreover, what would they have achieved in reality because the Tories would still potentially stay in government as a minority with almost certainly a fractionally riven Labour Party opposing them.
- If the Tories were to break the agreement that would take them out of government – can you see that happening? Because rather than this resulting in a general election, the Queen would call the new Labour Leader to the Palace to be asked whether they could form a government. I can’t see Cameron wantuing to do that – can you? It’s handing the power to call an election over to Labour.
So fixed-term is the key. The self-interest of both parties will keep them together until the AV (LibDEm) and re-jigged boundaries for constituencies (Tory) are in place. Having started on this adventure I sense that the dynamics of the two leaders Cameron and Clegg will actually want to make it work. I could be wrong … I hope I’m not!
Btw … to continue the footballing analogy. Poor @PGHarrison (my son) will be inconsolable this morning as his beloved Forest failed at what was seemingly an easy fence last night. I can see Cardiff (or Leicester) falling as well – if Blackpool’s spirit continues all the way through the Wembley play-off final.