David Blackburn

Coalition is the making of Cameron

Coalition is the making of Cameron
Text settings

It’s all going swimmingly. David Cameron is almost as popular as Gordon Brown was in August 2007. A worrying omen perhaps, but for the moment the government’s honeymoon is in full swing. It’s quite a bash, and many of the coalition’s initial detractors admit to being pleasantly surprised by Cameron and Clegg. Iain Martin is positive, though he maintains a learned scepticism. Fraser Nelson can see a possible re-alignment of British party politics, and today Martin Kettle gushes about Cameron the ‘man of grace’.

I'm not sure what a 'man of grace' is, but Cameron’s languid charm and opportunism are effective. Kettle writes:

‘[Cameron] recognises that he is delivering a deal, not a sell-out. Yet in doing so, he has pulled the Tory party further towards both the centre ground and an acceptance of coalition politics – and pushed Labour off both – than many would have believed possible. His seizure of the opportunities of 6 May to put liberal conservatism at the heart of this government's project has been audacious. Its long-term impact on the Conservative party is not yet clear. Its short-term impact is immense and, in Tory terms, almost wholly desirable. The old right (like the old left) can only gawp and grumble.

The imperatives of coalition have helped cement Cameron's authority in ways that not even he can have foreseen…Coalition requires Cameron to consult, make deals, and actively manage both his party and his government. Necessity has demanded the return of proper cabinet government. The seductions of cliquism and presidentialism to which Blair succumbed are off limits because of the hung parliament. A good thing, too, and Cameron has adapted with an admirably sure touch.’

Consensual government has returned – and do you know what it works. A torch bearer for the Tory’s right wing is amazed that he sits next to Danny Alexander on a committee chaired by Nick Clegg and finds that all are in agreement. Reform can be born of compromise.