Anyone who’s been unfortunate enough to ask someone for relationship advice of any sort will probably know that old guff about ‘give and take’: it’s all about compromises. This week, we’re going to see our favourite odd couple play out this cliche game. The liberals and the tories will come to gradual and reasonable compromises on a number of issues. But remember: whigs + tories = whories.
Simon Hughes will stand up and say: No! You will not cut housing benefit this much under my watch! Vince Cable will have his moment of frothing at the mouth over the banks in his usual cod-populism. Some back-benchers will kick up a fuss over tuition fees. And they will all have their minor victories. The housing benefit will be cut slightly less, the banks will have a stern talking to, tuition fees will be capped at some stratospheric (rather than astronomic) sum, like £12k.
But this shouldn’t take us down the path of sloppy reformism. That the Liberals will be handed some concessions in order to keep their place in the party was known from the start: and the Tories will have cranked up their policies knowing that they’ll be climbing one step down on a few. But the main thrust of the ideological attack will remain, and the effects would still be devastating.
Faced with a Tory politics worse than Thatcherism, we cannot afford to fall back into reformism, or sit around staring at the numbers of Liberals who may or may not ‘revolt’.