If only dead goats were returnable, I’d get a refund on the one whose entrails I sifted through last month. There I was, predicting that Tory members would continue to cool towards the Lib Dems and the Coalition. When, actually, it turns out that the opposite has happened. This month’s survey recorded warmer attitudes towards the yellow half of Government than we’ve witnessed in some time.
Of course, it’s all relative. On the question of whether coalition with the Lib Dems is good for the Conservative Party, the majority of respondents still disagree. But look at the uptick in the proportion saying they agree:
And it’s a similar picture, albeit with the ‘agree’ and ‘disagree’ lines switched around, when it comes to whether the Coalition is good for the nation:
Tory members are even happier to see this union carry on until the next election…
…and to continue after it, as well:
Why is this? My best guess is the Budget. Despite the dire forecasts I made last year*, this last Budget passed off without major schism between the two Coalition parties. Sure, Tim Farron has been agitating against the reforms to housing benefit, but that’s a controlled explosion compared to the megaton rant he deployed against Osborne’s cuts after the Autumn Statement. We didn’t even have any of the usual leaks from the Lib Dem leadership, boasting about what they prevented the nasty ol’ Chancellor from doing.
Which isn’t to say the Lib Dems have stopped their differentiation project – far from it. It’s probably just that they realise there are votes in seeming cooperative and governmental, at least on certain occasions. One day they’ll be this, another day they’ll be that. One day, naughty. Another day, nice. Is it any wonder if the attitudes of Tory members wobble around too?
*Another crummy goat.