The UK is now under the leadership of its first coalition government since the Second World War. Although my politics don’t fall in any particular place, on balance, I think this is the best outcome. My hope is that the Lib Dems will use their position to keep any Maggie Thatcher moves at bay, see that key policies to address the deficit are delivered on time and in a way that delivers confidence to all. In the same way, I would hope the Tories can give their Lib Dem colleagues a genuine level of responsibility and influence that will put an end to their reputation for wishy-washiness.
My fear, though, is that having dropped key emotional pledges, such as junking Trident and its stance on the Lisbon Treaty (it said yes and the Tories said no), in order to form this coalition, is a sign that wishy-washiness will in fact reign – and that the Lib Dems will be swiftly dispensed with. Some still worry that we’ll need another election in a matter of months, given the concern about the efficacy of coalition government in the UK. It is for Clegg’s team to prove 6.8 million voters right.
I am happy to see Vince Cable in Lord Mandelson’s old job, lamenting only the comedy value His Oiliness afforded us – but baffled to see Ken Clarke shoehorned into the role of Justice Secretary when you might have expected him to get a senior finance job.
We’ll see in the months to come whether these two quite unlikely bedfellows can make it work. If so, we may find that the very thing us Brits have reviled – coalition government – was the one thing we desperately needed. If half of all marriages end in divorce, let’s see if this one at least reaches its wooden anniversary.
Melanie Stern, Editor