Thoughts on politics and life from a liberal perspective

Thursday, 15 July 2010

Three reasons why Dave will not cut and run

Featured on Liberal Democrat Voice

There has been some speculation that given recent polls, David Cameron might consider ditching the coalition and going to the country again to try and get a mandate of his own. The Sun triggered more of this yesterday by explicitly asking in a tweet whether the highest poll ratings all year for the Tories (43%) with the Lib Dems languishing on 15% could persuade them to call a snap election to ditch the yellows.

Here are three reasons why this just will not happen in increasing order of importance:

1) It's not just the Tories who are up. Labour is also up to 34%, 5 or so percentage points above its election day level of 29%. Although on a uniform national swing this would give the Tories a majority of around 26, that is hardly resounding and it would only take the polls to deviate a little from these levels for even that slender majority to be at risk. In fact within the margin of error, if Labour went up to 37% and the Tories dropped to 40% Labour would be the largest single party. Prime Ministers just do not go to the country and risk it all so soon in a parliament in these sort of circumstances.
2) Cameron has gone very far out of his way to say time and again that he actively wants the coalition for the good of the country. Although it was a surprise to some straight after the election that he started talking like this he has gained many plaudits and is seen as a much more consensual and pragmatic politician. This has led to huge rises in his personal approval rating. How would he explain another sudden change, this time without the pragmatic necessity of dumping the coalition and going for electoral broke?
3) Most importantly, these polling figures would likely turn out to be will-o'-the-wisp. Yes the Tories are on 43% but that is with David Cameron as perceived through the filter of all the things I mentioned in point 2. If he was to ditch the coalition then suddenly, far from being a sensible leader putting the needs of the country first he would appear to be just another politician doing the dirty on his coalition partners for no apparent reason in order to capitalise on a poll bounce. I would fully expect the Tory ratings to fall in those circumstances, perhaps quite a long way. One corollary is that the Lib Dems may benefit from this and gain some percentage points out of sympathy as the "wronged" partner. Labour would almost certainly benefit though.

David Cameron is far too smart and canny a politician to fall into this trap. I fully expect the coalition to continue for a good while longer irrespective of where the polls go.


Anonymous said...

Another factor with this, is that CCHQ having 'shaken up' its organisation (made more than half its staff redundant) simply do not have the infrastructure to run an election campaign.

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Sol said...

Surprised anyone is even talking about a snap election. To me it seems utterly fanciful to think it is possible. Not gonna happen. At least wait for the partners to have a bust up before such speculation, surely.

Simon said...

Cameron can't afford to drive the LibDems into the arms of Labour by breaking a promise. If it goes wrong he will never be able to form another coalition and will be at the mercy of his backbench Daily Mail Tendency.

Part of his rationale for going in to the coalition so enthusiastically and giving so much away must have been all the pre-election talk of center left progressive* coalitions keeping the Tories out of power permanently. If anyone expected the Tories to fight back they must have been deluded.

Cameron needs this coalition to work more than anyone else, its just that his authoritarian wing don't get it.

*God, how I hate that term.

Sol said...

Simon, I only disagree with one point you make. I think we need the coalition to work at least as much as them. In actual fact, we need it to work a lot more.

I have said it before but Ill say it again. The whole LD raison d'etre is PR. PR means coalitions. If we cant make this coalition work, we might as well kiss PR goodbye. People arent going to go for something more likely to deliver coalitions if their only experience of them is failure.

The Tories have nothing to fear from that. The LDs have everything to lose in that respect.

Plus, the LDs are the ones currently brushing up their CVs, underlining all the serious experience they are gaining being in government. A lot of Tories didnt have any experience of government either but it didnt matter as much for them. There was always the perception is was just a matter of time. The LDs are cursed with the perception that opposition was a perpetual state, that they would never gain any real experience of power. They hope this coalition will dispell that perception. If it does, more people might vote for them. If the coalition collapses, they are less likely to benefit from that effect.

Simon said...

The Druid,

I presume from your opening comment that you are a LibDem?

I quite agree, you have more at stake in the coalition than the Tories, but you wouldn't think so listening the Social Democrat end of the party. They strike me as being more interested in the comfort of opposition where they don't have to make compromises and can make self righteous pronunciations than with the reality of governing an economy that has been driven into a canyon.