David Blackburn

The Brokeback coalition

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It’s the silly season. The Newspapers have been trawling for anti-coalition quotes from MPs, their wives and their dogs. They’ve found two. Tim Farron, the defeated candidate for the Lib Dem deputy leadership, said yesterday that David Cameron had a ’toxic brand’ and it wasn’t his job to cleanse it. Well, the latter is certainly true, and Lib Dem benches are concerned by plummeting polls and intense flak from Labour. David Cameron will make a very public effort to grant the Lib Dems concessions on civil liberties and fairness in the tax system, a pre-emptive tonic ahead of cuts. 


There is disquiet on Tory backbenches - there always is. David Davis has been stitched-up in the Boot and Flogger in Southwark. He was overheard describing the coalition as ‘The Brokeback Coalition’, a phrase he ascribes to Lord Ashcroft. The Big Society was a ‘Blairite dressing’, adding that:

‘If you talk about the small state, people think you’re Attila the Hun. If you talk about the Big Society, people think you’re Mother Teresa.’

None of this is surprising. The Big Society is a vision of community with greater independence from the state. And, comparing Cameron and Clegg to repressed homosexual cowboys is gloriously un-PC and accurate in figurative terms. It is playfully contemptuous rather than malevolent, so it is a non-story. But Cameron should learn from his former rival’s indiscretion: he must not marginalise the Tory right whilst insulating the Lib Dem left.