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Mid Term Situation of the Coalition Government

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Some commentators consider when assessing domestic politics that two of the party leaders that stood in 2010 will not carry forward their party during the next election in 2015. At this time we are half way through a predicted period between general elections. This is extremely unusual for Britain. Normally parties have to remain ready for an election during the forthcoming year.

In 2012 however, we are assured that we will have to wait until 2015. This is due to the fact that David Cameron is heading a coalition government that will remain in power until May of 2015. With a known date for the next election the impact of the mid-term party conferences can be very unappealing as compared to if the date of the next election was unknown. As I have argued already, commentators were of the view that two of the three party leaders were not likely to be in place in 2015. Eleven months in from this view probably Ed Miliband has consolidated his position. This could be a costly error for the Labour Party to make. In many ways there are some supporters that see Ed Miliband as something of a nerd or a geek. This suggests that some elements of his party are not entirely happy with their leader. Nick Clegg by comparison has a more widespread pool of doubters. A number of supporters would contend that Vince Cable could do a far better job. For the Liberal Democrats the current situation is somewhat more demanding. Their party support in the country has haemorrhaged from the situation that they enjoyed in 2010. In the opinion polls they would be very unlikely to gain many seats at the next General Election. At the time of the last election in 2010 the Liberal Democrats enjoyed a popularity of 23%. At that time the Liberal Democrats were viewed by some sections of society as representing a political choice which could be seen maybe as to the left of the Labour Party. By mid November this has fallen to just 8%; a massive haemorrhaging of Liberal Democrat support. Since the party has been joined to the Conservative Party it has greatly compromised the parties' popularity. On a more optimistic note there are commentators that suggest that the Labour Party together with the Liberal Democrats could form a coalition after the election in 2015. However the current opinion poll rating enjoyed by the Liberal Democrats suggests that this is unlikely. Nick Clegg is so sufficiently unpopular that there is talk of possibly a popular celebrity candidate running against him in his Sheffield constituency. This is in the style of Martin Bell the former BBC war correspondent, who defeated Conservative MP Neil Hamilton in the seat of Tatton in Cheshire in 1997. This is the kind of criticism that Nick Clegg is currently exciting.

David Cameron by comparison is more assured in his role. Cameron has gained favour with broad political support by acknowledging two of the parties' major digressions during the last 40 years. In this respect Cameron acknowledged in June 2010 that British troops fired unjustifiably on demonstrators in Northern Ireland in 1972, and made a formal public apology on behalf of the United Kingdom. More recently, David Cameron offered profound apologies for the double injustice for the loss of 96 lives at an FA cup semi final match held at Hillsborough in Sheffield in 1989. The double injustice was both in the "failure of the state to protect their loved ones and the indefensible wait to get to the truth," and in the efforts to denigrate the deceased and suggest that they were "somehow at fault for their own deaths."

This gained favour may reflect well on David Cameron by the time of the next election. He has a reputation of representing a more balanced position within his party. By the standards of the past Cameron has done much to shake off the impression that the Conservative Party were the 'nasty party.' Possibly this has been due to the coalition that Cameron holds together with his Liberal Democrat colleagues. The far right of the Conservative Party may dislike Cameron's image but on their own the Conservative Party maybe in a far less appetising position. If we look at the arithmetic of the results of the 2010 election there was little else that either the Liberal Democrats or the Conservative Party could do. To have a working majority a party needed 326 seats. No individual party received this support. By working together the Liberal Democrats and Conservatives could surpass this threshold. This is why we got the coalition government that we did. If the Liberal Democrats were to team up with Labour, that would be to reinforce a party that had been in power for 13 years with all the associated unpopularity that a defeated government represents. Such a coalition would be prone to being frequently defeated and would not have held together. Although it is mid term and popularity is at a low ebb, the results of the last election suggested no other solution. By working together the coalition government have represented a stable force in the country. Nick Clegg and his Liberal Democrat colleagues have suffered greatly from this situation; they have massively lost support and the referendum on electoral reform and look unlikely to be in a position of holding the balance of power in 2015. In some respects the Liberal Democrats have done a great deal for David Cameron's government. Perhaps the Liberal Democrats need to swallow their pride and pursue the agenda of the coalition governments' intention in achieving the equalisation of size of constituencies in Britain. Currently they have stated that they are unwilling to continue with this agenda, but it could represent a massive contribution that the coalition government could achieve which may be of some benefit to Liberal Democrat fortunes.

Currently there is a difference in the number of voters required in each constituency to win the seat. By this yardstick it is considered hardest for the Liberal Democrats to achieve a victory in a seat. Following the boundary changes this may make it easier for Liberal Democrat success. The precise psephology of British constituencies is to some extent unknown. In this respect the Liberal Democrats need to take the plunge and go ahead with this equalisation of constituency sizes, which to a degree is a feature of agreements that have already been entered into. Having said all this, David Cameron suffers from not being perceived as a man of the people. The trouble in October with his chief whip adds to this public school image that his party has. We are now mid-way through this parliament and it seems that all is to play for at the next election.