Coalition Government is a rocky road, whichever the parties who form the Coalition are. It may surprise many of you, but I want to offer three cheers to Coalitions.
It’s tough enough to try and find common cause with another political party for which you’ve spent most of your previous life in plotting its downfall! But the nature of the worst type of “opposition for opposition’s sake” politics which dominates this country is to create conditions which make political cooperation almost impossible and the fear of shaking hands with enemies without having to recount fingers an ever present hazard.
As chummy and co-operative as the two Coalition Parties tried to appear after the 2010 General Election, it could never disguise the fact that both the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats are long standing mortal enemies in many parts of the country, including this!
However, what the public usually want is grown up politics and mature debate; not a continuation of the conventional tribal Punch and Judy yah boo politics which dominates too much of both media and Parliamentary time.
Being forced to put aside differences and bury hatchets is a positive and healthy thing to do (though deeply disappointing for those who thrive on arguing for the sake of it and who prefer using the hatchet when simple diplomacy would be more effective!). To then go on to identify areas of agreement and to work constructively to find a compromise can be both surprising and creative.
But one of the greatest strengths of a Coalition is what others may call its weakness; i.e. its lack of a pre-ordained and predictable majority for everything it proposes.
So when the Government ‘U’ turns on forestry policy, pasty tax, caravan tax and the like it should not be seen – in my view – as evidence of a humiliating climb-down, nor even as part of an “Omni shambles”, but as evidence that Coalition Governments cannot take either Parliament or the country for granted in the way that single parties with large parliamentary majorities can.
12 June 2012
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