Andy McSmith: Those old Tory war horses have been put out to grass

A Conservative government would never have called a referendum on the Alternative Vote

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The Independent Online

If they have achieved nothing else, the Liberal Democrats have filled jobs at every level of government that would have gone to Conservatives.

There are right-wing Tories now on the back benches, like that old war horse John Redwood, who quit the last Tory Cabinet in 1995 to run against John Major, who might reasonably have expected to be called to the colours in a one-party government. Others, such as the rising star Nick Herbert, have had to settle for less senior jobs than they must have hoped for – but there are middle-of-the road Tories in that position too.

So how much difference would an all-Tory line up have made? The one outright certainty is that a Conservative government would never have called a referendum on the Alternative Vote, and thus, ironically, would not have killed off electoral reform as a political issue so effectively.

A Tory government might have been quicker to abolish the 50p tax rate for high earners. There would have been tougher talk on law and order – because David Cameron's original intention was to put Ken Clarke in the office that Vince Cable now occupies – and softer talk on bringing the banks to heel or curbing boardroom pay.

On a small point, a Tory Cabinet without Nick Clegg and Chris Huhne in it might have been a little less expensively educated.

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