One of the publications I listed in an earlier post has now been published. My chapter on ‘The Politics of Coalition’ has appeared in Nicholas Allen and John Bartle (eds), Britain at the Polls 2010, published by Sage. I see it has already been drawn on by Martin Kettle in an article in today’s Guardian, in which he writes:
“Most of the reasons for forming the coalition in the first place still hold good, however. That is because the Tory-Lib Dem coalition was not fundamentally based on policy or ideology, in spite of the best efforts of some its friends and foes to pretend otherwise. In reality, as the political scientist Philip Norton (who is also a Conservative peer) argues in a useful essay in the newly published Britain at the Polls 2010 collection, political and personality factors played extremely important roles in the formation of the coalition too. And these factors are undimmed.
The Lib Dems joined the coalition partly because of their desire for office, partly because the Tories hustled them, partly because both parties wanted to marginalise the Tory right and partly, as one Lib Dem peer put it this week, out of old-fashioned patriotism because of the perceived state of the national finances. Personalities and styles mattered, too. Cameron and Clegg got on. Brown was difficult. Most of the chemistry had little to do with policy or ideology and a lot to do with circumstances and characters. As long as the coalition keeps winning votes and getting its programme, this will continue. Labour’s attacks on the Lib Dems help. By pushing the Lib Dems into a corner, they close off any alternatives. The coalition would be more vulnerable if Labour were smarter and gave the Lib Dems more exit routes.”