This morning, as we publish, the British people are waking up to the news that they have a new prime minister. And a new Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition government. And a new political era.
The question is, what kind of political era? Within hours of David Cameron’s arrival as the new inhabitant of 10 Downing Street, the cynics were peddling their wares …
“In all the debate about who lost the election, let us be reckless and predict who is going to lose the next one: the Liberal Democrats. The absurdity of this party has long been clear to many of us … it is composed largely of Leftists of the sort who find the Labour Party a little common; and in part of people who agonise permanently over whether to join the Conservatives. That decision seems now to have been made for them. The price, however, of any support, formal or otherwise, for the Conservatives will be that the Lib Dems will be widely obliterated when next at the polls. Their Leftists would never forgive them …” — Simon Heffer in The Telegraph
“Nick Clegg has climbed into bed with the Tories, whom most of his supporters hate, for a political price that is more than a pittance, but scarcely worth the price of their souls. More than a few Tories, in their turn, are dismayed that David Cameron has made a deal with a party of hookers …” — Max Hastings in The Daily Mail
“There will be those from across the political spectrum and in all parties who hope this alliance will be strangled at birth. But they should be careful what they wish for …” — Leader in The Independent
The easiest thing to do in the messy event that was the 2010 British election is to be a knocker. And given the policy and ideological divide between the two coalition partners, and the way their marriage was so hastily conceived and consummated, there is plenty of grist for that mill.
But at the risk of being accused of sentimentality, or even worse, we actually liked the words of the leader in this morning’s Times as the motif for the start — if not the rest — of the new British government …
“As one tribe left for the last time and two tribes moved quietly in to replace it, we had a poignant reminder that a mature democracy is an achievement in which every British person shares. The Government has left office. The new Government is arriving. That is not a banal fact. It is a thing of wonder. It is the way things are in this country and there are moments when we should pause and be thankful for that.”