What a really obvious question.  But the odds pre-election were firmly in favour of a hung parliament, Conservatives largest party, Lib Dems holding the balance.  So this outcome was never unlikely.

Yet I, for one, cannot recall anyone predicting a full coalition between the Liberal Demcrats and the Conservatives.  The looks on the faces round Abingdon Green where I was doing my media-tarting were all surprised.

So.  Can anyone link me to some wiseacre who saw this coming – who wrote a column in April, say, predicting a LibDem Conservative coalition?


35 thoughts on “Quick question: did anyone see this coming?

    1. Fascinating Guido piece. Some bits uncannily accurate (Laws to Treasury), but an awful lot is rubbish:

      – the strength of the BNP
      – the ‘burying’ of Labour by this coalition
      – Labour getting most seats
      – Cable as Chancellor
      – Huhne’s reluctance
      – the pound!

      So I reckon 5/10 for Guido, who wrote the post for the wrong reasons (hoping for a pre-gloat at Labour’s expense)

    2. ” Alastair Campbell is bailed at West London Magistrates’ Court after his live on-screen 3 a.m. drunken assault on Nick Robinson.”

      LOL… uncannily similar to what happened the other way around on Sky…

      1. Yeah, though a bit cruel as AC is a recovering alcholic – then Guido never pulls the punches. And GF reads it UTTERLY wrong when he implies that Labour being largest party would feel like a squalid defeat to them. Observe the general air of relief and satisfaction at Hopi et al when it became clear they would not get 220 seats after all. Biggest party would have been TRIUMPH.

        And he gets Harman utterly wrong in many different ways, and Miliband. Nope, sorry, no prize for Guido here.

  1. Me, 31 January: ‘I do hope the said credit ratings agency man, now a senior LibDem MP, gets a say in who the LibDems form any coalition government with.’

    He had a say. He lost.

  2. Also ‘pound rallies 12%’ – I think that might be rather too in awe of the power of politics.

    Have the coalition said yet how they will fight national elections, in particular the next General Election? Will they stand aside in each other’s seats, if not all for Cabinet Ministers? Will they campaign for a repeat of the coalition or will the Tories campaign for a majority? And when the Lib Dems say there is a ‘Tory tax bombshell’ presumably it’ll be because they are privy to Cabinet discussions, and so on.

    So I suppose what I am wondering is how does it happen in other countries? Are their coalitions as chummy? Are the elections hard fought?. And also without PR can it be seen as stable?

    Early questions for day 2!

    1. I think a lot of people will be learning German to help get a handle on this. BUT, as you imply at the end, early days. I mean, we are all understandably obsessed with seat-maths and all that technical psephology stuff. But 4-5 years is a really long time ago (5 years ago, Kennedy was the leader. Imagine a Kennedy -Howard pact …)

    2. I was pointed to Australia, which is interesting especially in that it seems, if this is a semi-permanent New Order, that AV isn’t a concession, it’s absolutely bloody vital to allow the two parties to stand ‘against’ each other but still benefit from each others’ presences.


      Note that although they use a type of AV in the House of Representatives, in the Senate – which is elected by Group Voting STV – you can if I’ve understood this correctly vote Liberal or National or for a joint ticket depending on what state you live in (?) Sorry to any passing Aussie if that’s completely wrong. Although I will say I like the sound of the Australian Fishing and Lifestyle Party.

      1. That sounds like it ought to garner, ooh, about 76% of the male vote in Oz

  3. In oxford there were about 100,000 labour leaflets delivered which predicted a lib/tory alliance. does that count? 🙂

  4. A friend of mine (who didn’t write a column, but posted on another forum) predicted it. His argument was the number of councils in local government with Lib-Tory coalitions.

  5. I wasn’t surprised by the coalition, necessarily, but more by how extensive, deep and enduring the committment seems to be. Even when they were discussing a coalition I never would have predicted a plan to work together for five years.

    I’m still taken aback by it to be honest.

    What do they do if they decide they really, really don’t like each other in two years’ time and want a divorce?

    1. Politicians never really like each other. Or it doesnt matter, because they are obsessed, obsessed I say, with the national interest.

      I will come up with a serious answr some other time. But if it takes aback the evil reptilians, all the better ….

    1. Good post. But all you were really predicting was that they would talk to the Tories first and get into some deal. Did you honestly expect cabinet seats like this? If so, respect.

      Quoting you

      “Of course, the Tories may concede something on the electoral reform front. Clegg is hardly likely to budge on this. But then neither is Cameron. So most likely is the promise of a referendum at the next general election.”

      AT the next GE, not before it – may be crucial. Also, you framed the whole thing around Nick wanting to ‘kill labour’ – like Parris. I personally prefer my formulation – that it was an aversion to being killed WITH labour that drove the logic.

      IF Labour had had 265, Tories 290, LibDems 65, say, the whole thing could have been really messy – and the ire directed at Nick Clegg for tying into Conservatives far more bitter, because it would have looked like a real choice. But there wasn’t one, really, once all those Labour MP’s took to the airwaves. Kill Labour? More like save it.

  6. you do not have to be friends to make deals…in many ways it is better to be like the oil companies with their joint ventures…we expect this to break down at some point so we will cover this in the pre-nup. Contrast with BT’s assumptions in the late 90s that JVs were for ever and they never took account of potential melt-down.

    BTW, do you think that cityunslicker’s analysis of Letwin’s influence on the pre nup carries any weight? I am intrigued that CU called it so much better than any of the political and journalistic blogs…even yours, I am afraid to say

    1. Maybe they did, but they’re also seriously deluded in a newer post to describe Vince Cable as a “A die hard old socialist”.

    2. OK, I certainly didn’t, D1960, but in mitigation:

      – I was excessively nervous about causing trouble, both pre election and pre-coalition – worried that I might make things difficult. Julian at work had a similar view till right at the end
      – I was also too emotionally invested to predict without it being what I wanted. I was fairly sure Tories biggest party – dreaded the idea it might be majority – had no idea of Labour’ strength (but was quick to acknowledge it as the feature of the election. Oh, and I bought Labour seats at 219, so put money on them being better….
      – once the situation was Hung, I think I divined what was in the interests of all quite well here:


      “This leads to a weird conclusion. If Labour remain sensible, they might enjoy opposition while the others cut. (conventional wisdom). If they do, the other two both have serious existential reasons to fear another swift election. As a result, some sort of LibCon cooperation might have what we economists call equilibriating forces from all sides driving it together. Perhaps we are about to have stable government?”

      identifying Labour’s strength, Tory disunity, Cameron perhaps liking LibDems more than we realise, and the Cleggsurge changing the frame of what other parties consider an acceptable outcome, as matters driving us towards an attempt to build a libcon thing that would last.

      But I never, NEVER thought the Tories would or could offer a referendum on electoral reform. When I saw that on the beeb, I slapped the side of my monitor, assuming the thing had broken in some weird way …

  7. We aim to please !

    Like to think we score a few hits becoz we are simple businessmen & rank amateurs (+:

    … the Westminster Village frequently see can’t the wood for the trees ( – or indeed, doesn’t even know what a wood is)

    Nick Drew / CityUnslicker / Bill Quango MP … Capitalists@Work

    1. Hi Nick

      One thing I can’t argue with: Westminster Bubble needs more people with actual experience of capitalism in it (from either end).

      Yours, an ex-spreadbetting and derivatives dealer, aka scum of the earth

  8. Hi, scum-of-the-earth !

    Agreed – & that’s why I also like Tom P’s blog @ http://labourandcapital.blogspot.com/

    Obviously he’s a wrong-headed leftie, but his mission is to understand how the real (financial) world works, which is one up from most of them

    A very dear uncle of mine – a leftie cleric – said (as an old man) his greatest regret was that he had lived for 70 years before he realised that the important pages in the newspaper were the Business / Finance / Economic pages …

  9. my take is that this coiuld be ground-breaking. Most people look at the parties as single organisms whereas they are really coalitions of diverging but similar interests. The tory left and the libdem right might now meld into a group that means the hard right can be isolated…and maybe attract a few from the scummy labour party – though very few people i have seen in the labour party seem to have any attractive qualities either of intellect or personality .

  10. alex….if you can find someone else who embodies the image of die-hard socialist better than Vince Cable, please let me know. He reminds me of Tony Benn in the 70s…invariably spouting socialist tripe and then complaining of being misquoted when his constant changes of mind are bought up.

    1. Not bad at all on the anti-LibLab sentiment – though like quite a few you saw Labour getting more seats. Which would have been a nightmare for Clegg

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