N is for No
Nothing has frayed coalition relations quite like the AV referendum has. This was always going to be the case, but the viciousness it inspired has still been fairly shocking. Need we remind you of Chris Huhne’s outburst in Cabinet last week? Or of George Osborne’s stinging riposte? Even David Cameron seems to have relished taking it out on his coalition stablemates, trashing their pet policies with a vigour that would have been unthinkable only a few months ago.
As Tim Montgomerie reveals in his exhaustive guide to the No campaign, Cameron’s firmer stance coincided with a realisation of just what he was risking. A victory for Yes, and the PM’s decision to permit a referendum would have looked like a fatal concession. Even a close victory for No might have set Tory backbenchers grumbling. But, as it was, Cameron’s gamble paid off, and overwhelmingly:
Not that the Prime Minister can rest easily now that the referendum has been won. The fallout still needs to be dealt with. So far, all involved have emphasised the continued strength of the coalition, particularly in its resolve to fix our broken economy. But as both the Tories and Lib Dems also work to distinguish and assert themselves, there’s an undeniable sense that something has changed. No longer, talk of a formal Liberal Conservatism — but, as Nick Clegg put it earlier today, of two parties that “stand together, but not so closely that we stand in each other’s shadows.”
O is for Oxbridge
What is is about Oxbridge? The spires and quadrangles have, this year, almost become a by-word for the debate about social mobility in this country.