Peter Hoskin

Tories growing used to a hung parliament in public and in private

Tories growing used to a hung parliament in public and in private
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Planting seeds, that's what the Tories are doing – they're planting the seeds of a Lib-Con alliance.  Yes, it's a subtle process, and is couched in terms of denial and defiance.  But it's still going on.  I mean, look at Cameron's interview with Jeremy Paxman past night (video on Spectator Live), where he declined to rule out having Nick Clegg in his Cabinet – although, happily, he was more unequivocal on the subject of Vince Cable.  And then there's Ken Clarke's interview with the Daily Telegraph this morning, in which he says that the Conservative "starting point" for any coalition would be a refusal to compromise on their economic plans.  Sure, he also tells the paper that he doubts an agreement could be reached – but the parameters and possibilities are being set out nonetheless.

One corollary of the Lib Dem surge is that it seems to have made certain Tory MPs more accepting of a hung parliament in private.  They still don't like it, of course – and there's still plenty of anger being directed at the party leadership, that the Tories aren't miles ahead in the polls.  But they do regard Cleggmania as something of a freak occurrence, which could barely have been guarded against in any event, and which is slightly more excusable than being run close in a straight race with Labour.  Whether this will smooth any post-election deals and recriminations remains to be seen.