Up until Thursday night, everything that David Cameron and George Osborne had done in government had had to be agreed by the Liberal Democrats. Every policy had to go through the ‘Quad’, the coalition government’s decision making body made up of Cameron, Osborne, Clegg and Alexander. That doesn’t have to happen anymore. As one Downing Street figure says: ‘It is all completely different now, we can power forward with what we want to do. There’s no need for everything to be watered down. It’s invigorating’.
Not having to manage a coalition, also frees up huge amounts of time for both Cameron and the Number 10 operation. It would be well advised to spend a good chunk of this time, say half, on managing the party. The signs are, encouragingly, that is what Downing Street will do. One close Cameron aide told me yesterday, ‘we’ll have to canvass opinion carefully. We can’t just present people with things and tell them to vote for them.’
Combine this approach with the fact that Cameron’s standing with his own MPs has been transformed by the fact that he’s now a proven election winner, how many other leaders have forced their three rival leaders all to resign on the same day, and you can see how even with a small majority things might be more harmonious than people expect. Obviously, the big challenge will be the EU renegotiation. But it is worth remembering that Cameron’s hand in Europe has also been strengthened by this election result.