Jonty is head of the Progressive Conservatism Project at the think tank Demos. He writes here in a personal capacity.
No one wanted it, but here we are. If we cannot have a Conservative majority, it is time to consider our next best option. Here’s six reasons why progressive conservatives should support a Conservative-Lib Dem government:
1. We agree on a lot – schools, localisation, green issues, civil liberties, some aspects of bank regulation and democratic reform. Yes, there are sticking points like Europe but there is a lot more in common than Tories usually admit, and one disagreement – the euro – is clearly off the table for a decade now.
2. A lib-con coalition would turn ‘Tory cuts’ into national cuts. This could be strengthened by offering Cable BIS or a Canadian style ministry of recession
3. A coalition with the Irish is dangerous. The United Kingdom needs to be a neutral broker there, not taking sides. Likewise, it would be unfair to ring fence welsh, Irish or Scottish budgets in a time of cuts.
4. The Lib Dems have some talent. Clegg is obviously more able than he was given credit for before the campaign. Cable is well liked, and there are other talents like Jeremy Browne and Danny Alexander.
5. The lib dem case for PR is weak now. They do not have the popular vote to back it up. STV and Lords reform might be enough to tempt them in.
6. A Tory-lib pact would be at least as stable as any other combination. Without it, Conservatives face the prospect of a miliband/clegg coalition, which could be popular.
No true conservative wanted this situation, but we have always been the party of pragmatism.