James Forsyth

The Liberal Democrats, the natural party of government?

The Liberal Democrats, the natural party of government?
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If four years ago, a Liberal Democrat politician had attempted to portray the Lib Dems as the natural party of government we all would have laughed. But that is just what Danny Alexander tried to do on The Sunday Politics. Being interviewed by Andrew Neil, he implicitly contrasted Lib Dem steadiness with Tory in-fighting. He said:

“You know some people at the time in 2010 said that it would be difficult to keep a coalition going because one party might not be able to remain united and disciplined. Let me reassure you and your viewers that Liberal Democrats will make sure that this government continues to be strong and stable enough to be able to take the difficult decisions in the years to come, no matter what’s happening in other parties.”

Now, obviously, this is a little bit opportunistic. But it does illustrate a danger for the Tories. They are, to the bafflement and amusement of the Clegg circle, spending their time talking about internal arguments rather than on what the government is actually doing.

The irony is that they’ve chosen to do this at just the time when there is actually some good economic news to talk about. It’s striking that George Osborne now feels confident enough to write an upbeat piece on the economy for The Mail on Sunday.

The question for the Tories is whether they can recover their sense of discipline. If they can, there is still everything to play for politically given that Labour’s lead is not that large and the economy is improving. But, as I argue in the Mail on Sunday today, both Cameron and the rest of the party will need to change the way they operate if the Tories are to win again.

UPDATE: The video of the interview is here:-