Isabel Hardman Isabel Hardman

Gove row paints dispiriting picture of a post-2015 Lib-Con coalition

The row between the Lib Dems and Conservatives over Ofsted has taken a curious turn this morning, with Lib Dem MP David Ward, not particularly well-liked by the leadership, appearing as a party spokesman on the Today programme.

Given this is about someone’s fixed-term contract not being renewed (any voters who are bothering to pay attention to this row will wish a similar fuss was made when the same thing happened to them), it is, as Fraser said on Saturday, an entirely manufactured row designed to appeal to that very specific group of voters Nick Clegg is trying to court.

But this row does raise an interesting question about the Coalition. James wrote in his politics column this week that the two parties are merely cohabiting now. This means they can go the distance to 2015. But what does it mean after 2015? The three party leaders must think carefully about their red lines so that in the event of a hung parliament, another deal isn’t impossible. But what if the Tories and the Lib Dems end up in Coalition again? One of the reasons for cohabitation is that they have run out of road for reforms that both will agree on. This could mean that a post- 2015 coalition has very little room for radicalism, leaving the two parties bickering about Michael Gove for five years.

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