Thursday, 17 June 2010

Don't tell him, Danny!

"Who's responsible for these nasty cuts?"
asks the money-throwing welfarist.
"Don't tell him, Danny!" blurts Captain Osborne.

But seriously, this Liberal-Conservative coalition is a strategic masterstroke; I'm converted. I've even warmed to "Lib-Con" over "Con-Lib". It's hardly a fluke that Danny Alexander is the face of the coalition's cuts. Its just a shame that no Tory strategist can claim credit for such a decisive outmanoeuvring of the Liberal Democrats without risking instant political Seppuku.

The touchy-feely Lib Dems have rich reserves of political capital for the Conservatives to burn when it comes to delivering bad news. Alexander is the perfect messenger to announce the cancellation or suspension of £10.5 billion in delusional last-minute Labour spending. Before him it was David Laws who played the axeman perfectly, standing next to Osborne in the Treasury garden. You couldn't even see the strings.

Laws has since departed of course and for the Liberals too the honeymoon might be over. The Lib Dems will realise, like many new brides - once the sunshine in the Treasury garden has faded and the glare of flash bulbs outside Number 10 has softened - that marriage is a contractual institution. The stakes of not getting hitched were high. The post-election prospect of landing the political blame for a double-dip recession, the spiralling deficit, and fears of a rating downgrade all loomed large.

Quitting the marriage bed any time soon carries the same political threat. I think the coalition will last the course because it will require a much recovered economy for either Lib-Con partner to consider separation. When viewed in this light, Labour should get used to being Shadows. Lib Dem interests are still firmly aligned with the coalition and staying in power. Even if their job is partly to soften the blow of delivering bad tidyings.

Gordon, the rings please.

The Cameron-Clegg partnership represents the overlapping politics of both parties. Cameron claims (truthfully) to be a "Liberal Conservative", while Clegg stands on the more libertarian edge of his own party. To his left is the strong wing of "social liberals", still smarting at the collapse of the brief "Lib-Lab" pipe-dream.

The reality of office has already coerced the Lib Dem "u-turn" on their pre-election promise to delay cutting the deficit. But David Miliband, etc, can snipe from the hilltops all they like; cuts are not a political choice but an economic imperative. The Lib Dems in government positions have realised that and I have enough respect for the the UK electorate to believe they know it too.

Furthermore, as Nick Clegg remarked on BBC1's Andrew Marr Show:
"The outgoing Labour government was just throwing around money like there was no tomorrow, probably knowing that they were going to lose the election, making extraordinary commitments left, right and centre, many of which they knew they couldn't honour."
How do you like them Apples, Miliband(s)?

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