The full coalition agreement, released this morning, is fascinating enough in itself. Here we have a
step-by-step guide for how two different parties will operate together, what they will do, and, broadly speaking, when they will do it. And, perhaps to ease the general uncertainty
surrounding this type of government, it is considerably clearer than party manifestos tend to be. One thing you can say, at least, is that this coalition appears keen to make itself more
Skimming through the actual document, there seem to be few surprises, and a good handful of reviews designed to punt difficult policy areas into the long grass. As the Times’s Francis Elliot
reports, the Tories are bragging about two particular details, although with some cause, I feel:
"Michael Gove, the Education Secretary, is likely to be pleased that there is no role for local authorities in enforcing fair school admission policies. Tory sources also pointed to a
pledge to “simplify the benefit system in order to improve incentives to work”. The wording allows for reform on payments."
The first means that we are likely to see Gove’s schools reforms put in place undiluted. And while the latter matches previous Conservative "aspirations" to reform the
benefit system, the presence of IDS gives you real hope that we will see the Centre for Social Justice’s excellent proposals in this area become government policy.
Until Cameron’s bizarre provocation yesterday, the Tory leadership could have sold much of this as a
reforming, Conservative agenda to their backbenchers. They will probably still try. But you imagine that there will be even more attention and anger paid to any concessions now.