Alex Massie

To 2015 And Beyond

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My word, the Daily Mail is a tender, easily-startled fawn. Here's James Chapman today:

The Prime Minister raised the extraordinary possibility of a non-aggression pact between the Tories and the Lib Dems at the next election as he mounted his strongest defence yet of the coalition.

Well, the Daily Mail may consider this "extraordinary"; readers of this blog should not. This is both a logical and necessary step along the road to a second term. This, mind, will be difficult to achieve even with Liberal Democrat support for a second coalition: it will require nerve and guts and luck. But, perhaps, it can be done.

The good news is that Cameron plainly has a realistic and sensible approach to coalition management:

'The coalition is a relationship that has to be worked on,' he said in his exclusive interview.

'It's a bit like a seesaw – there will be some times it feels the Conservatives are making the running, there will be some times it feels like the Lib Dems are making the running.'

[...] "It's important that the Lib Dems feel and are seen to feel that some of the things they care about are being delivered on and they are making a real contribution. I don't hide that, I celebrate it."

The Prime Minister suggested that the relationship between the two parties could extend beyond 2015, when he and Nick Clegg have agreed the next election should take place.

'That will depend on how things feel at the time, but I'm enthusiastic about what we're doing because I think we are delivering good government at a difficult time,' he said.

'I think if we can succeed we can demonstrate that these two parties can work well together for the good of the country – that I think does reshape politics.'

Mr Cameron said that the Tories and the Lib Dems would fight the next election independently – but suggested traditional hostilities could be suspended.

'Of course I expect Conservatives and Liberals will fight elections separately. We have different underlying philosophies and differences in approach and policy. But obviously if we are fighting a separate election after a successful five-year government, I hope we will be relatively polite about each other.'

Written byAlex Massie

Alex Massie is Scotland Editor of The Spectator. He also writes a column for The Times and is a regular contributor to the Scottish Daily Mail, The Scotsman and other publications.

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