Editorial: The case for keeping the Coalition is clear

Whispers about breaking up the Coalition are growing louder, but such thinking is not so much wishful as simply faulty


The received wisdom is that it is the junior member of a coalition – and, in particular, its leader – who pays the heaviest price for collaboration with the political enemy. But shared government is far from easy for the senior partner either, as David Cameron is finding out.

From the 100-plus Eurosceptics voting their “regret” at the Queen’s Speech, to the “swivel-eyed loons” gibe at Tory activists from a senior member of the Cameron top team, to the parliamentary rebellion over gay marriage, the serial commotions of recent weeks have left the Prime Minister looking weak, “out of control” (as one former Tory cabinet minister helpfully put it), and – fatally – detached from his party’s core concerns.

Hence, Mr Cameron took to the airwaves yesterday morning to try to draw a line under the debacle and focus minds on the “massive programme of work” still to come. Even with the controversial Marriage Bill behind him, however, the contretemps will continue.

The Prime Minister’s problem is that his quarrelsome MPs and disaffected activists are not only unconvinced about certain of his policies – they are unconvinced about him. Had the Tories won a majority in 2015, neither Mr Cameron’s policy on the EU, nor even his support for same-sex marriage, would have been beyond his powers of persuasion. As it is, though, he simply does not have the electoral authority to take his party with him.

It is no surprise, then, that the whispers about breaking up the Coalition are growing louder. Senior Tories are reportedly modelling scenarios for exit, and the more febrile commentators have over-interpreted some rather anodyne remarks of Mr Cameron’s to draw similarly cataclysmic conclusions.

The logic may be flawed, but it is easy enough to understand. The fractious and frustrated, in parliament and the shires both, have convinced themselves that it is Mr Cameron’s attempts at modernisation that are to blame for his failure in 2010. And with Ukip peeling off support from the right, the argument is, supposedly, clinched. Jettison the Liberal Democrats, therefore, and all will be well – for country and party alike.

Except that precisely the reverse is true. Not only would such a move confirm voters’ suspicions that politicians are wholly divorced from the country’s real concerns, thus guaranteeing a drubbing at the ballot box. The collapse of the Coalition, and the chaos that would ensue, would also be a disaster for Britain.

That Nick Clegg, of all people, has now waded into the debate will no doubt rankle with trouble-making Tories. But they would do well to listen, nonetheless. Having graciously avoided capitalising on the Conservatives’ recent ructions, the Deputy Prime Minister did point out yesterday that those outside the Westminster bubble look askance at the game-playing that is consuming so much time and thought.

He is right. Now is no time for political petulance. With the economy in the doldrums, and the global climate far from clement, Britain needs stable government more than ever. True, there have been tentative signs of economic life in recent weeks. But, as yesterday’s downbeat assessment from the International Monetary Fund made clear, we are still a long way from a sustainable recovery. Political uncertainty would be calamitous.

The irony, of course, is that the Coalition has been anything but a failure. Indeed, it is the two parties’ agreement on the fundamentals of their economic strategy that is the mark of its surprising success. Whatever Mr Cameron’s clamorous MPs might say, a break-up of the Coalition is in no one’s interests – least of all Britain’s.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Senior Digital Marketing Consultant

£28000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Senior Digital Marketing Cons...

Recruitment Genius: Assistant Stores Keeper

£16640 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Assistant Stores Keeper is r...

Recruitment Genius: Claims Administrator

£16000 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an excellent opportunit...

Recruitment Genius: Software Developer - C# / ASP.NET / SQL

£17000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Developer required to join a bu...

Day In a Page

Read Next

Election catch-up: I’m not saying the Ed stone is bad – it is so terrible I am lost for words

John Rentoul

Election 2015: The SNP and an SMC (Salmond-Murdoch Conspiracy)

Matthew Norman
Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

Everyone is talking about The Trews

Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living