A couple of days ago I gave a Labour-supporting friend of mine my defence of ‘The Coalition’ – you know, all that stuff about moderating the Tories, having Lib Dems in government, pushing forward cherished policies and the simple fact that there was no other deal in town. My head still tells me that all of that is true (although my heart still has ‘issues’) and that we must at least give the new arrangements a chance, not least because I’ve been a proponent of coalition government for the best part of twenty years.
“Ah, I see you’ve rationalised it then,” my friend remarked, not doing a particularly brilliant job of masking his disappointment. I understand how he feels. I really wish there could have been another way. I wish the Tories had won fewer seats, I wish Gordon Brown had gone a year ago and I wish the Labour Party hadn’t been so bloody hopeless. But, to use that staple cliché of despair, we are where we are.
In an attempt to find a way to live with something I’m instinctively opposed to, I suppose I have “rationalised” the situation. But that doesn’t mean I’ve stopped finding the Conservatives vile (not in every respect, of course – just the ones that matter). I have long believed that David Cameron’s only truly held belief is that he should be Prime Minister (this is demonstrated by the startling amount of ground he gave during the coalition negotiations). I further believe that the Conservative Party’s only reason for existence is to protect the interests of a small minority at the expense of everyone else.
But the point is, they don’t have the unfettered power to do all the nasty things we know the Conservative Party love doing. They have to compromise. There are no doubt huge battles to come – some we’ll win, some we’ll lose – and we progressives will be carefully watching the Budget process (I’m already preparing myself to be furious over a seemingly inevitable VAT rise and the direction of spending cuts). But at least we have seats at the table, at least we can make a difference. A Tory-led government is never a comfortable scenario for me, but I’ve ‘rationalised’ the situation and I can just about live with it – for now.