As with so many things, the coalition’s great strength is also its great weakness. On the one hand, it is two parties working together, politicians putting aside their differences to cooperate in the national interest. This is something that, broadly speaking, the electorate likes. On the other, it is a government that nobody voted for.
There’s a danger that the public come to see coalition as an arrangement that just allows both parties to worm out of their manifesto commitments on the grounds that they didn’t win the election.
The coalition’s national interest case is a strong one. But it needs to be made with greater frequency. It cannot be allowed to go the way as the summer of scrutiny of Labour’s record.
One other consequence of this week is that Ed Miliband is in a far stronger position. He has now dragged his shadow Chancellor into line on a graduate tax, giving Labour a position from which to oppose the coalition. He also has severe Liberal Democrat unease with the coalition to play with.