Few things are as immutable as the addiction of political groups to the ideas by which they once won office.I'm tired of reading vitriolic tweets sneering at the UK's coalition, which is by no means perfect, I know. The old two-party system, with swings from one extreme to the other, hasn't done us much good. Most people vote for the opposition to get the one in power out, because of unpopular policies, but popular policies wouldn't necessarily be good for us. Apathy, cynicism and disillusionment led to a general election result that no one liked and forced a compromise that even fewer wanted, especially Labour voters. Some of them have told me that the Lib Dems should have formed an alliance with Labour, not the Tories, but how could they? Imagine the hoo-ha if Labour had got back into government despite losing the election. Besides, Brown and Co didn't seem too keen. It's all water under the bridge now anyway; get used to it.
John Kenneth Galbraith
It was a mistake to have the voting reform referendum at the same time as council elections, and an even bigger mistake not to devote more time and money to a good pro-reform campaign, so we're still stuck with the old first past the post system.
If we end up with another coalition in 2015, I won't mind. In fact, I'd prefer it to either the Conservatives or Labour having a majority. Many local authorities function as coalitions of the three main parties plus independents and are forced to make compromises, which is what politics is all about. It prevents extremism of one sort or another and expensive, wasteful reversals of policy. European coalitions have worked, with the exception of Italy's, though as Paul Hoskins wrote in a Reuters article, "For Britain, the great unknown is the peculiarity of its famously confrontational political system which may not be best suited to a coalition style of government." Since one of the reasons that many voters have been turned off politics is the "famously confrontational" style of PMQs and other exchanges, maybe it's time that British MPs grew up and learned about the consensus approach. A lot less shouting, and a lot more co-operation.
The world is changing faster than the mind sets of most party loyalists.
Oh, and what have the Lib Dems done?
Illustration: Parliament in the early 19th century, source unknown.