Is the Coalition here to stay?
Normally politically quiet, the Christmas period has, this year at least, been rather busy and significant. The most significant thing has been the lead taken by the Daily Telegraph in doing everything it can to undermine the Coalition by printing a series of stories about what Liberal Democrat ministers really think. As a paper it has joined Conservative Home in the lead of the anti-Coalition Conservatives. If Jeremy Hunt fails to deliver the goods (and maybe even if he does) I would expect the Murdoch Press to suddenly find a critical voice too. They will lay off Cameron for the moment but show no mercy to the Liberal Democrats who, having been outed as ‘unreliable’, will be targeted and quite viscously I would imagine.
Unloved by anybody except the Cameroons you might feel sympathy for the Liberal Democrats were it not for the fact that they brought this totally on themselves. The Cameroons are doing their best for their hapless side-kicks; even going so far today as to suggest today that the Coalition might continue but they are in no position to promise anything. The reality is the anti-Coalition Conservatives command the clear and overwhelming majority at every level of the Party.
The only way for the Coalition to continue would be for both leaderships to be prepared to rupture both their parties. What does this mean for Labour? I personally, think the shine is coming off the idea of ‘coalition’ and ‘consensus’ politics. People will still say they are in favour of it because it sounds nice but in practice I think people overwhelmingly dont want the negative consequences of broken promises and weak government.
Arguing Labour should adopt a more ‘pluralist’ approach to politics is therefore in one sense mistaken. Within the, admittedly narrow, confines of Westminster furthermore the number of viable suitors is non-existent. The Liberal Democrats, even their left-wing, have spent so long bashing Labour already; especially over the deficit, its hard to see majority support for a coalition with them ever happening. Sadly, the Greens who I would consider as more natural allies in some regards are too numerically weak to be viable.
While plurality at Westminster is without a shadow of a doubt of the question and an unacceptable course for Labour to take; the prospect does exist for ‘plurality’ from below within the various opposition movements to the government. This principled plurality has a future as an opposed concept to the rotten and discredited ‘plurality’ Cameron and Clegg are in favour of; based, as it is not on a surrendering of identity or bartering of promises but consistent work and struggle together towards a mutual end. This is the kind of unity that could last because its built on solid foundations, unlike the Coalition which is a house of cards built on sand…..