Tuesday, June 1, 2010

David Cameron, The Post Political Prime Minister?

As the dust finally settled following Britain's 2010 General Election Conservative Party leader David Cameron was invited by the Queen to become Prime Minister and form a coalition government with the Liberal Democrats. In the spirit of full disclosure this was not the move I was hoping for on the part of the Conservative Party. I was a fan of a Conservative minority government in which Cameron's message to the Lib Dems and to Labour was "try to stop us from governing." However, I can't help but be impressed with how effective Cameron has been at creating a government that better reflects the voters wishes and insulates the Conservative Party partially from blame. To elaborate on the latter point I found it interesting that the areas of compromise (many of which Lib Dems will head as ministers) were already included in the Conservative Manifesto.

From a political point of view the coalition may turn off Labour voters who tactically voted Lib Dem in order to keep the Tories out of government. Further I believe the coalition puts Nick Clegg and the Lib Dems in a terrible spot in terms of campaigning. First they will not be able to profess a new politics and instead will be inevitably wedded to the role of third party. No longer can they claim to blow the wheels off of the two party system as was there rallying cry in 2010. A cycle in which the Liberal Democrats lost nine seats and there share of the popular vote dropped two percent.

While the Lib Dems will have to create a new electoral narrative when the next election is called, the Conservatives have a huge opportunity to build upon one they have already established. Assuming the economy improves David Cameron and the Conservatives will have the chance to argue that "Conservative-Lite" has saved the UK just wait until you see a full fledged Conservative Government can do. Lastly, the Conservatives are the only party in British politics with the money on hand to run an effective campaign anytime soon. Both the Lib Dems and the Labour Party are cash poor and this provides further incentive for the Lib Dems to make the coalition work and possibly make concessions they otherwise would not.

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