Ten days before the last election, The Spectator interviewed David Cameron. By this point, it was quite clear that a hung parliament was the most likely result of the next election. But Cameron repeatedly refused to discuss which parts of the Tory manifesto were non-negotiable. He told us that ‘spending a lot of time trying to fillet your own manifesto is not a particularly good use of time in the actual campaign.’
The next campaign, though, is going to be very different, I argue in the magazine this week. We already know that Cameron’s promise to renegotiate Britain’s membership of the EU and hold an In/Out referendum applies regardless of whether Cameron is leading a coalition or a Tory majority government. So, if Cameron won’t say the same about other policies we will know that they are not as much of a priority.
This process worries people at the heart of government, in both parties. They fear that it could lead to so many red lines being put down that any future coalition agreement becomes impossible. The area that worries insiders most is Britain’s relationship with the European Court of Human Rights. One Clegg confidant told me that he worries that both leaders are being pushed to make such firm commitments on the ECHR that it will prove a stumbling block for any deal.
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