There is a perfectly good argument that the very difficult things that need to be done in the national interest are better done by a coalition than by a single party government. It is an interesting argument. But it is not an argument which was advanced before polling day. And it rests upon the assumption that unless he was included in the Government, Mr. Clegg would have led his MPs to vote against measures which he knew were in the national interest. Nor was it an argument which appealed to Margaret Thatcher who also faced some difficult and controversial decisions in 1979.Tebbit continues,
It is sometimes now forgotten that as late as the autumn of 1979, Jim Callaghan, a man with far greater popular appeal than Mr. Brown, had been favourite to hold on to power. In the event, the Conservatives led by Margaret Thatcher, polled 13.7 million votes, Labour scored 11.5 million and the Liberals 4.3 million. More remarkably, eight years later, she was returned with 13.8 million votes against Labour’s 10 million and the Alliance’s 7.8 million. In the disaster of 1997, Blair led NuLab into office with 13.5 million votes, John Major’s Tories (who no one in their right mind would describe as right wing xenophobic extremists) crashed to 9.6 million and the Lib Dems to 5.2 million. After eight years of NuLab, Blair could muster only 9.5 million votes, but the Conservative vote was still only 8.8 million, and the Lib Dems only 6.0 million.
It's a question oft repeated by Tebbit, and it is a good one.
Against that history of recent elections, this year’s figures are deeply depressing to anyone who has any affection for our Parliamentary democracy. Cameron’s Conservatives struggled up to 10.7 million votes, still more than 3million less than Thatcher in ‘87, only just better than Major’s 9.6 million in his defeat at the hands of Blair in ‘97. NuLab sank to Labour’s second lowest total for 75 years [8.6 million], and the wonder kid Clegg [at 6,836,824] was 500,000 short of the Alliance vote nearly thirty years ago.Mr. Cameron is Prime Minister not because the voters turned out for him, as they had done for Thatcher and Major, but because Labour’s vote collapsed. These were truly awful figures for all three main parties, and even more when we bear in mind the population increase since 1979. How could it have been that in the face of the worst government we have seen for many, many years, the Conservative vote was so low?
Still, we are where we are, and we have to make the best of it. And unlike Tebbit, I'm not a fan of old school Conservatism. There is at least a chance that some of the positive features of the Liberal Democrats will lead to a better outcome than we would have seen with a Conservatve majority government, especially if Daniel Hannan is right that "Lib Dems are often better than Tories at grasping the difference between being pro-market and being pro-business."
Early moves on Capital Gains Tax are Europe are deeply concerning, but there is still a glimmer of hope.