Alex Massie

Clause 4 Moments

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One of my favourite bloggers, Sunder Katwala, has a typically fine post asking if this coalition really is, as some of us think, Dave's "Clause 4 Moment". He makes a number of pertinent point, not the least of which is his contention that, actually, it's Nick Clegg who has imposed such a choice upon his party.

True, Cameron has forced change upon his party and, if it holds and works, the coalition may see some perceptions of the Tory party change but, in this instance anyway, that change has in turn been forced upon him even if I do think that Dave is happier with this arrangement than he would be with, say, having a majority of nine.

But, yes, it's Clegg who has demanded a "Come to Jesus" moment of his party. You only had to watch Simon Hughes on Question Time tonight to become aware that this was the case. It was evident that Hughes hates - or at least regrets - this deal and that he'd be happier with Labour. But, manfully, he defended it anyway.

And with good reason. Clegg asked his party if they wanted to be serious and if they wanted to be players in the Big Leagues. Was there a walk to go with the talk? Put into such a bind even the Lib Dems couldn't find a way out of it.

Again, this represents the victory of the classical liberal minority over the muesli-knitting majority. This is a Good Thing for any number of reasons and something proper liberals - that is those of use who prize social and economic liberalism - can be pleased with.

Remember too that if the government can restore the public finances - there's a reason they chose five rather than four years for the fixed parliament - and if, by spring 2015, they are in a good place and if there's the Alternative Vote by then the logical thing to campaign on is a second term for the Tory-Liberal coalition and that voters should be asked to give their second preference to the other coalition party...

Written byAlex Massie

Alex Massie is Scotland Editor of The Spectator. He also writes a column for The Times and is a regular contributor to the Scottish Daily Mail, The Scotsman and other publications.

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