I’m at a YouGov conference in Cambridge where we’re just had a speech from Andrew Lansley, the new Leader of the House. He was speaking about the coalition, and gave a brief history of its inception.
‘None of us had, in truth, understood the nature of what a coalition government might be…I’m not even sure the Lib Dems had thought about what a coalition would look like. In normal circumstances, with that election result, there would not have been a coalition. We’d have formed a minority government, put forward a programme, challenged the House to support it or not and after a decent interview – probably a few months – we would have had a general election and would have almost certainly won a majority… So the Conservative Party surrendered what would have been its narrow political interest for the national interest.’
The Tories offered this surrender, he said, because of the urgent need to address the deficit which Labour then proposed to halve over four years which Osborne (then) wanted to halve in three years. The implication was that, if the Tories had tried to go it alone, Britain would have been the next victim of the bond markets.
Personally, I’ve always been puzzled by politicians who draw a distinction between the ‘national interest’ and their own manifesto. If they didn’t think their manifesto is in the national interest, isn’t it time to change the manifesto? But for our embattled ministers, it seems become part of the narrative of government. That coalition is their sacrifice: the Tories could have won outright, but chose not to.Tags: Andrew Lansley, Coalition, Conservatives, UK politics