Tory MP’s summer resolution: “I am going to learn to love the coalition” (But he’ll still block Lords reform)

by Stephen Tall on July 19, 2012

There’s an interestingly conciliatory post on ConservativeHome from Tory MP Gary Streeter — introduced as ‘one of the 81 rebels on an EU referendum and one of last week’s 91 rebels on an elected Lords’ — re-committing himself to supporting the Coalition.

… we need a steady hand on the tiller at this time of global crisis. We need stability in government. We need to be able to look ahead for more than just a few months. We need to survive until 2015 and thereafter might even be in coalition again for a further period. We are fortunate to have a Prime Minister with all the skill set to do coalition well.

And is Clegg really so awful? I remember hearing his launch of his party manifesto on the radio of my car in April 2010 and I was well impressed. Let’s not forget that we did not win outright partly because of Clegg’s performances on the election TV debates. Many said he performed badly in the recent debate introducing the House of Lords Reform Bill (which I voted against) but as he was attacked from in front and behind in a way that I have never seen in 20 years I thought he did rather well.

So I have gone into the summer recess having made a half-way-through-the-year resolution. I am going to get behind the coalition more fervently when Parliament reassembles in September. In my heart this is not easy, but in my head I know it to be the right thing. The government has achieved a lot in the past two years and has some tough challenges to tackle. I will still oppose an elected House of Lords but other than that I will endeavour to support the leadership that comes from Cameron and Clegg. I am utterly convinced that a Labour government anytime in the next five years would be an absolute disaster.

I am going to learn to love the coalition and I recommend you do also.

In the national interest.

It would be all-too-easy to be cynical about Gary Streeter’s post: supporting the Coalition, yet voting against one of its key pieces of legislation, isn’t what I’d call loving.

Nonetheless, both parties have in the past week or so glimpsed into the abyss which faces us (individually and collectively) if this Government falls apart at the seams. We’ve thought about how the public will respond if it looks like, just when the country needs effective leadership, the Coalition opts for infighting. It won’t be pretty, either for the Lib Dems or Tories. So, as summer resolutions go, I’ve heard worse.

* Stephen Tall is Co-Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice, a Research Associate for the liberal think-tank CentreForum, and also writes at his own site, The Collected Stephen Tall.