I have noticed that the Parliament Channel has variously repeated the seminar held in June on the lessons to be learned from past coalitions in British history. Three eminent historians spoke about previous coalitions. I chaired, though as I was originally meant to be a discussant – stepping in to chair at the last moment – I also occasionally added my comments.
One of the points made by the panellists was the importance of personal chemistry. The leaders of the parties in the coalition usually got on well together. One difference I noted in respect of the current coalition was that the two leaders also come from very similar backgrounds. Unlike leaders in past coalitions, this was not a case of opposites being attracted to one another. This is just one of several differences with past coalitions. (To understand coalition formation on this occasion it is as fruitful to look at practice elsewhere as it is to our own history.) Having two leaders so similar to one another, with apparently very good personal relations, may be a strength, though there are also potential problems. They need to remain close to their parties as well as to one another.