Conservative Diary

One year of The Coalition

13 May 2011 16:05:54

Yet another piece about one year of the Coalition

By Tim Montgomerie

I've written a piece for this week's New Statesman on one year of the Coalition. Here are three of my ten big observations:

The cuts are not ideological but straight out of the OECD/ IMF textbook: "Despite protestations from the left, the coalition is not prosecuting a great ideological attack on big government. Until two years ago, Cameron and George Osborne backed Gordon Brown's spending plans and attacked those on the right who called for a smaller state. The Chancellor does not have a Reaganite belief in the supply- side power of lower taxes. If any US president is Osborne's model, it is the post-stimulus Barack Obama. The current occupant of the White House is advocating a fiscal retrenchment for America similar in scale and composition to Britain's, differing only in the important matter of timing. Both countries promise to reduce their deficits by about 8 percentage points by 2015 and both will use spending restraint to do 75 per cent of the work."


Graphic from BBC1's Politics Show.

Concessions are about helping Clegg, not helping the Liberal Democrats: "Backbench Conservatives who oppose further concessions note that the Liberal Democrats would face annihilation from the electorate if they brought down the government. David Davis has said the Lib Dems are on the coalition aeroplane with good seats, but no parachute. They are not the ones, he says, who are "gonna blow up the plane". Yet Cameron's concession strategy isn't about stopping the Lib Dems from jumping off the plane. His main concern is to prevent them storming the cockpit and replacing his co-pilot with Chris Huhne, Tim Farron or Vince Cable."

The Liberal Democrats are not the only roadblock to reform: "Cameron's closest advisers have also become deeply frustrated by resistance from the bureaucracy, and they complain that human rights laws, European directives and an uncooperative civil service are as much a drag as the anti-reform voices within the Liberal Democrats. The Cabinet Office minister Oliver Letwin has calculated that only 40 per cent of the papers that cross his desk relate to the coalition agreement. The rest, in almost equal measure, originate from Europe or from within the Whitehall bureaucracy."

Read all ten observations in the New Statesman.

11 May 2011 07:48:49

Ten observations about the state of public opinion on the Coalition's first anniversary

By Tim Montgomerie


There's no room for complacency but Cameron can look at the first anniversary opinion polls with some satisfaction.


Clegg-Bird Since the General Election there have been two key trends in the opinion polls.

  • The most notable trend has been the huge decline in support for the Liberal Democrats. Clegg's party is down to 9% in the latest Ipsos MORI and YouGov surveys, and just 11% in Populus. Yesterday, I tweeted data from the latest Populus poll which points to the Lib Dems' underlying weakness.
  • The other interesting trend in headline opinion polling is that a Labour lead over the Conservatives that emerged at the end of last year and grew in the first few months of 2011 has almost disappeared. Last night's YouGov daily tracker had Miliband's party ahead by just 2%. The two big parties were both at 40% in the latest Ipsos MORI poll. Populus had Labour on 39%, Conservatives on 37%. 

Continue reading "Ten observations about the state of public opinion on the Coalition's first anniversary" »

10 May 2011 08:40:54

A year on, this is still the Pushmi-Pullyu Government. And despite last week's drama, it will remain so.

By Paul Goodman

Screen shot 2011-05-03 at 11.02.24

Let's stand back from the turbulent aftermath of the AV referendum - with all its argy-bargy about the whether the Coalition will move left or right, and whether David Cameron should now press home his advantage - to look at the Government in the round, one year on.

  • Never forget how many voters like the idea of two parties governing together.  It's worth clocking right at the start how much backing the coalition partners have: add their poll ratings together, and the government parties command the support of between 45 and 50 per cent of the electorate.  No administration in recent history has been buttressed by so much backing.  Perhaps this is a sign of the deeply pragmatic instincts of the British people; perhaps it is a mere consequence of the electoral arithmetic.  But either way, Labour are left with the advantage of having opposition mostly to themselves - but the disadvantage of being easily portrayed as petty and partisan, out for their own good, not the common good.
  • But two parties governing together means less clear and coherent administration than one governing alone.  Governments are sometimes reduced to incoherence when they reach the end of their term, or when their Commons majority is imperilled - like the Callaghan Government of the late 70s or the Major Government of the mid-90s.  This administration has a majority in the lobbies of over 80, but the necessities of coalition none the less give its work an ad-hoc feel.  In some crucial areas - such as human rights policy and immigration policy - it seems to make up policy as it goes along.  A commission on a British Bill of Rights was rushed in after the Commons rejected votes for prisoners.  On immigration, the Prime Minister has described reducing it to tens of thousands as an "ambition", even though that aim was in the background papers to the Queen's Speech.

Continue reading "A year on, this is still the Pushmi-Pullyu Government. And despite last week's drama, it will remain so." »

9 May 2011 15:40:31

Preview of tonight's Channel 4 documentary on the Coalition's first year

By Tim Montgomerie

Tonight on Channel 4, 8pm, Andrew Rawnsley presents an hour long documentary on the Coalition's first year. The PM and Deputy PM both contribute as do a host of senior Cabinet ministers and observers. A few extracts to whet your appetite:



Andrew Rawnsley: Have you played tennis together?

Nick Clegg: Once.

Rawnsley: Who won?

Nick Clegg: State secret.

David Cameron: I did. It was a very even match. I can't remember the exact score but it was it was up there. It was an eight six or a nine seven or something like that. And I think actually technically he is probably a better player than me. I was just a bit more wily.


Andrew Rawnsley: David Cameron and George Osborne, are they decent blokes?

Continue reading "Preview of tonight's Channel 4 documentary on the Coalition's first year" »