Good on Damian McBride – making the case for coalition government

by Stephen Tall on September 20, 2013

damian+mcbrideI’ve met Damian McBride only once, in February this year. Two things struck me.

First, how much healthier (and happier) he looked than he did in 2008 when his role in a dirty tricks campaign against the Tories was exposed. He was only 34 when that furore flared, yet in pictures from the time he looked at least a decade older.

Secondly, he is seriously smart. A career civil servant promoted to Head of Communications at the Treasury he retains a deeply impressive knowledge of the knottiest tax policies. It makes his downfall all the more poignant: all that potential and intelligence sacrificed in pursuit of a doltish wheeze to spread lies online about your political enemies’ private lives.

Damian is now publishing his account of the Blair-Brown years, Power Trip: A Decade of Policy, Plots and Spin. Expect it to be brilliantly written and as unsparing of his own conduct as it is of others’, a sharp reminder of quite how destructive the New Labour years were of good governance.

The polls currently tell us the public prefers single party government to coalitions. Before the election the polls showed the public wanted a coalition. Which simply shows that the government of the day tends to be unpopular with the public.

But at least within Coalition the disputes between the governing parties are (generally) out in the open. In single party government, at least as practised by New Labour, people turned in on themselves, plotting, feuding. Which leads me to the conclusion, to misquote a famous Liberal: Coalition is the worst form of government except all the others that have been tried.

* Stephen Tall is Co-Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice, and editor of the 2013 publication, The Coalition and Beyond: Liberal Reforms for the Decade Ahead. He is also a Research Associate for the liberal think-tank CentreForum and writes at his own site, The Collected Stephen Tall.