A Conservative Home poll, which found that a majority of activists believe that the coalition is good for Britain, is the latest little boost for David Cameron, so says Paul Goodman. The Tories are having a good the summer; confidence is building. Yet there is, as numerous commentators and MPs are keen to stress, some way to go before the party can think of a majority. This means that the Lib Dems, who are likely to hold the balance of power in any future hung parliament, deserve some attention.
There is not much meaty polling about the attitudes of Lib Dem activists; but, what there is, is quite telling:
Clegg and Co (or whoever it is in 2015) will be governed by the electoral maths: if David Cameron has the numbers; he will form a government. Yet they can’t ignore their base without risking a rumpus or a split, so a formal coalition is not a certainty in this hypothetical hung parliament. I suspect that activists (of all stripes) realise this.
Elements of the Lib Dem base are making mischief as conference approaches: witness this call to reinstate the 50p tax rate. Clegg and his allies want to stop this sort of tomfoolery with breathy talk about wealth taxes; but their pledges will harden as the election nears, and so will their demands. A referendum on PR was the bauble Clegg demanded of the Tories last time. He will have learned from that unhappy experience.
If David Cameron thought that gay marriage was a tough sell, try squaring a mansion tax or some such with the likes of Sir Edward Leigh. Cameron may shudder at the thought of depending on the 20 or so rebels who reside on the backbenches like bandits in the mountains; but he may find himself with no other option if the Lib Dem leadership chooses to look after Number One.