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Wednesday, 2 May 2012

Cameron's "Conservative-led" Government

In the Standard's interesting eve-of-poll interview with the Prime Minister (, Sarah Sands asks David Cameron if he could imagine a Coalition Government including the Conservatives and UKIP, to which Mr Cameron responds: "If you are clairvoyant...I don't think that is what is going to happen. When it comes to the next election, do you want a Conservative-led government, or to go backwards with Labour or waste your votes on one of these other parties, that is the key question." Not "a Conservative Government", but a "Conservative-led" one, which is what we have at the moment, with the current coalition. Is Mr Cameron preparing his pitch for a scenario in which, in 2015, the best the Conservatives can hope for is to again be the largest party in a hung Parliament, so prompting a continuation of the current Conservative/Liberal Democrat Coalition?

Stranger things have happened, especially if the economy recovers, the Coalition gets the credit and neither the Conservatives nor Labour is popular enough on its own to win an outright Commons majority. My preferred outcome for the 2015 General Election is a Liberal Democrat victory and a Lib Dem Government. In the not inconceivable absence of such an outcome, I'd be delighted by another hung Parliament and another coalition. Were that coalition to have David Cameron as its Conservative Prime Minister and Nick Clegg as its Lib Dem Deputy Prime Minister, I would not complain, as I like the current government more than I have liked any other British Government of my lifetime.

If I was Mr Cameron (which would come as a frightful shock to Mrs Cameron), and if I detected little public appetite for a Conservatives-only government, I would be thinking that another Conservative-led Coalition Government is among the least worst options for the Conservative Party - after all, many other conservative parties (such as Germany's Christian Democrats) long ago accepted that being the senior partner in a coalition with the liberals is, realistically, as good as it often gets. I find Mr Cameron's "Conservative-led" choice of words significant.

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