Coffee House

It’s cohabitation, not coalition now

1 February 2014

The Tories and the Liberal Democrats are increasingly going their separate ways. But they’ll stay in government together until the election is called. As one Whitehall Lib Dem told me recently, ‘We’re not in a coalition now. We’re just cohabiting’

During the immigration bill, it was striking how Tory Ministers abstained on the Raab amendment while Lib Dem ministers voted against. Indeed, if there had been more votes, there would have been more coalition splits for the government had agreed to suspend ‘collective responsibility’ on various amendments.

Oddly enough, though, this distancing is one of the reasons why the coalition looks likely to go the distance. In this week’s magazine, I argue that it gives both parties the space they need to make their own, distinct arguments to voters. But it does mean that there is likely to be precious little new legislation in the next 15 months or so. Neither party is in the mood to try and blend together their policies. Instead, the emphasis will be on things that can be clearly labeled as Tory or Lib Dems wins.

More Spectator for less. Subscribe and receive 12 issues delivered for just £12, with full web and app access. Join us now.

  • James Allen

    We need this man….. the rest can go hang:

  • Tony_E

    And this is why so many people shook their heads in disbelief when the 5 year fixed term was announced. The LIb Dems cannot be removed from their ministerial jobs, so they can spend three years basically co-operating with the opposition to ensure a better chance of staying in power after the next election returns a similar result.

    Had they been in danger of being thrown out of government by the PM calling a snap election, I suspect their behaviour would have been more circumspect.

    • the viceroy’s gin

      The Cameroons didn’t want a snap election. They wanted to enact the full LD agenda, which is what they’ve done for the most part. So the coalition has worked perfectly for all of them.

    • perdix

      You should know that the reason for the 5 year parliament was to give time to sort the economy without the risk of frequent ambushes in parliament.

  • BarkingAtTreehuggers

    Lynton Crosby, the electorate just don’t get it.
    Two defeats in two days and they still don’t get that there is no coalition. This *noncoalition* cannot get anything done that would be of substance. It could not change the system from the inside (boundary reform, electorial reform and so on), it could not find a majority for important aspects of foreign policy either (Syria and so on).

    This noncoalition isn’t hardworking, this noncoalition is destroying this country.

    This noncoalition must end now, or else the UKIP will sort them out in May and the Scot will finish the job what will technically be a *summer of discontent*.
    Lynton, you must make Dave fail again next week, please. He was ‘deeply concerned’ that the Lords crushed Wharton’s Private Members’ bill? Was he Fawke.
    You need to make him fail again. He wants to fail again.

  • Smithersjones2013

    So this is what we get from Coalition is it? Three years of squabbling, counter briefing and division followed by two years of resentful sulky inaction?

    That’s another one (Coalition) to add to the list of “50 things the Libdems support that turned out to be bad for us” and to add to the other list “50 Whizzo wheezes from David Cameron that turn out not to be so smart”

    • perdix

      The Libdem ideas of coalition with Labour would be different to that for coalition with Tories. The big parties want to obtain a majority. They would have to dilute their manifestos if they negotiated coalition programmes. That would lose them much of their core vote.
      “Three years of dysfunctional squabbling…..” ? They managed to save the economy, reform welfare, reform education etc, etc. Pretty good record considering.

  • Pier66

    Yes perverse, anti-democratic, tyrannical animal: LABOUR AND LIB.DEM PARTY

  • Pier66

    all my compliments to Colonel Mustard did yesterday’s post, I agree with you 100%
    Colonel Mustard is one of the best here, we are surrounded by the infamous Labour and Lib as well, next may for EU should be nice have a upset score for UKIP!

  • fozz

    Apparently Cameron reads this CH stuff. But does he take any notice of it? Does he care? Does he do anything?

    • Colonel Mustard

      If you write comments on a blog it is almost guaranteed not to be ignored but on the contrary taken as a benchmark of the nutjobbery and fruitcakeism to be avoided like the plague. Even those who provide the facilities to comment despise the commentators.

      One of the most salient aspects of the rarified atmosphere inside the Westminster bubble is its ability not just to cushion the inhabitants from any views expressed outside it but to ensure consistency in treating them with a collective scorn. As wonkery has advanced as the main qualification for a political career so the self-delusion of knowing best propagated within the narrowest of life experience has flourished. It is ‘Home and Away’ for politics with the cast, scriptwriters and critics absolutely immersed in a world unassailable by the multitude of rough and ready window lickers across the blogosphere.

      We miserable serfs can paste our rebellious flyers on the walls of the castle but the barons within look out from the lofty battlements with a totally different perspective.

      • pearlsandoysters

        A very evocative description of the state of affairs in Westminster village, though it should be noted that the Middle Ages were not that hopeless after all.

      • Pier66

        NICE STUFF AGAIN, but I like very much the rarified atmoshere inside House of commons…

      • Makroon

        If Cameron really reads the CF, (I don’t believe it, perhaps he asks some underling to have a quick look), he certainly has a strange and distorted view of UKIP from his readings on here. He is forever making panicky moves to “shoot the UKIP fox”, when no fox is visible anywhere.
        If he would just listen and act on Crosby’s advice, he might have a chance, but as we know “David will just not be told”.

  • @PhilKean1

    “But it does mean that there is likely to be precious little new legislation in the next 15 months or so”

    And here is the big irony. Because there will be LOADS of new legislation over the next 15 months ; not from our elected Government in Westminster, but imposed by the unelected ones in Brussels.

    The EU will be THE most important issue of the 2015 election.

    The British voters will either fall for David Cameron’s stated claim that he intends to renegotiate a new relationship and then offer the British people an in-or-out referendum. Or they don’t fall for so obvious a political ploy and vote against him.

    But here’s something to think about when it comes to making your choice in 2015.

    (1) – Has ANY CH reader heard Cameron say, at ANY time, that he would campaign to leave the EU if he doesn’t get the “deal” he thinks is necessary?

    (2) – Why, when he says the British people may soon be voting to leave the EU, is he seeking to include Britain in EU trade agreements, and signing Anglo-French defence agreements intended to pave the way for an EU armed forces : ALL of which is making Britain increasingly dependent on membership of the EU?

    (3) – Why hasn’t he imposed a moratorium, not on the dictats from the EU which he is too weak to refuse, but on the agreements that are the product of his DIRECT solicitation – until he knows whether or not Britain is going to join the Euro and accept the Brussels Government as the supreme legislature?

    Seriously, how are any of you being taken in by the man?

  • WatTylersGhost

    Unbelievably Cameron again intends to entrust the UK’s future in the EU to another private members bill.

    These morons run the country with an incompetence rarely witnessed before in the UK, and you lot at the Spectator accept it with hardly a murmur.

    • Wessex Man

      come on, he’s just kidding, he has no intention of having a referendum, he’s just trying to hold his party together the only way he knows how, to lie through his teeth!

  • HY

    Cottaging, James. They’ve had a five year fixed term that has proved to be anything but a gay marriage.

  • alabenn

    So the Lib Dems will be allowed to stab them if the front instead of the back,.
    How long before we stopped the cuts ” going to far and not as fast ” becomes another mindless mantra as they cosy up to anyone who will save their slippery skins.

    • telemachus

      Is that a thank God that Clegg saved us from unfettered Toryism

      • Colonel Mustard

        Only in the mind of someone as ideologically deranged and bereft of rational comprehension as you.

        • telemachus

          Frederich Forsyth was oh so correct on 10/1

          Now there is a severe danger that the Labour/Lib Dem bloc in the Lords will filibuster it “out of time” so that it fails. If they are in government as coalition partners again but with Labour, the Lib Dems will fight tooth and claw to see we never get a referendum. Hence their desire to kill the chance now and use their bloc in the Lords to do so.
          Hopefully we will not need him

          • Colonel Mustard

            Why anyone would “fight tooth and claw” to stop a referendum when apparently the public is so evenly divided on the matter is beyond me. You would have to be some kind of perverse, anti-democratic, tyrannical animal to do so.

Can't find your Web ID? Click here