Nick Denys is Head of Digital at Bright Blue. These views are his own.
Those who want to rule out a further Coalition – no matter the circumstances – are making a mistake. As a Conservative, I strongly believe that the UK is better off when Conservatives have power. There is no doubt that we should campaign strongly for the biggest possible majority, but the Party should not tie its hands before the 2015 results are known.
It may be in our country’s best interest to form a stable government with a junior partner. It certainly is not in our best interest to withdraw from the power broking and let Miliband be the only option for the Lib Dems to keep their red boxes. As Philip Johnson put it: “It may well be the case that the public would prefer a single party government, but they might not vote for one and the politicians need to deal with the Parliament that is elected…” Last Friday’s YouGov poll found that 87 per cent of Conservatives would prefer another Coalition if the alternative was Prime Minister Miliband.
We all have our moans about what the Lib Dems have blocked, but it is fanciful to think that a minority Conservative Government could have achieved more. Would the Lib Dems – if they were not tied into Government – have voted for Free Schools, for raising tuition fees or welfare reforms? I suspect not. Robert Hazel and Ben Young calculated that 75 per cent of the 2010 Conservative manifesto made it into the Coalition’s Programme for Government. If a minority Conservative Government had lasted a short-time, would it be likely that a Conservative majority be returned at the forthcoming election? There is no evidence to support this dream.
A better commitment would be that the leadership will present any new Coalition agreement to the membership for approval; one member one vote. The Party as a whole should have a say in whether what is on offer is acceptable, whether it is Conservative enough to justify another five years of Coalition. Whatever the outcome, we will all be bound by the democratic result.
This promise creates logistical problems, which is why the details need to be worked out now. Putting a Coalition agreement to membership means that a new Government will have to wait a few more weeks than the five days they did in May 2010, but as we are all discovering, there is plenty of time in a five year Parliament for such things. The polls suggests that another hung Parliament is very possible so it is sensible that the Party prepares.