A Liberal Democrat – Conservative Coalition. It’s quite hard to articulate the confusion I feel as a Lib Dem supporter at the reality that faces us all this morning. I imagine it’s equally hard for many other Lib Dem supporters, as well as many Lib Dem MPs. To be honest, I imagine it’s pretty hard for dyed-in-the-wool Euro-sceptic anti-immigration pro-Trident fox-hunting arch-conservative Conservatives too.
On one level, I think Cameron’s commitment to getting a parliamentary majority is something no other Tory could have done- and in a sense, he has to be admired for that. I also wonder, had someone else been Lib Dem leader, whether the deal would have come to pass. Whether it will work out in the long run remains to be seen- if the PR (AV?) referendum leads to more proportional government, this could be the Tories swansong- their Indian Summer of ‘progressive’ conservatism before the real progressives (Clegg and Miliband?) return in five years. On the other hand, the refendum is by no means won, and a Tory government under the most adept and shrewd leader since- well- since the days of PR man Blair- could have a lasting power that surprises many.
Cutting a deal with the devil is never easy. It would be easy to criticise Clegg for ‘selling out’ liberal values, but actually he’s committed himself with trying to work with the enemy. I imagine he won’t sleep well for a while. Pragmatism is all very well, but I doubt you’ll find many Lib Dems who feel anything close to resembling comfortable going in with the Tories. Its haunting- and yet historic, a first glimpse of power for decades that comes (hyperbole warning) at the cost of many values Lib Dems hold dear- ‘marriage incentives’, attempts to bolster a nuclear deterrent that needs to be cut, and tax cuts on inheritance (possibly).
This post is a bit of a rambling mess- but then that’s my state of mind at the moment. Seeing Cameron walk into No 10 is not a nice sight. Seeing Brown leave however is probably for the best. In five years? Who knows. We live in interesting times.