Why should Cameron help Clegg?
My column for The Independent on Sunday is about a change that has come over the Prime Minister in recent weeks. I am told that he now thinks that he can win in 2015 without the Liberal Democrats. Previously, the shock of falling short in the election last year, which he expected to win, had convinced him that winning a working majority (of, say, more than 10 seats) in his own right was too ambitious a target after a time of fiscal stringency.
The secret of his new extra confidence is that the Lib Dem endorsement of what most people think of as a Conservative government – so strong are the binary assumptions of our politics – has completed the change in Tory image that Cameron attempted before the election.
Thus he can present himself as tough on immigration and welfare (and say that he would be tougher if he were not constrained by the Lib Dems), while also being a compassionate, liberal Conservative on the NHS and international aid.
Which, in case you had not noticed, was precisely the electoral combination that Tony Blair put together and with which he won three elections.
Thus, when it is suggested that Cameron should “give” Nick Clegg something in the so-called Coalition 2.0 negotiations (so-called because 2.0 has been put on the Banned List when it refers to anything other than software), I understand that he says: “Why should I help the Liberal Democrats?”
Photograph: Andrew ParsonsTagged in: coalition, david cameron
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