The last few days, at conference, have allowed the Liberal Democrats to ram home the point that they remain a independent, centrist, socially and economically liberal force in the coalition government with the Tories. It has also given those on the far ends of the coalition the opportunity to rule out any idea of a Lib-Con pact at the next election. Those who do so are foolish. If this coalition is successful, it would be utter folly for its component parts to fight one another in five years’ time while defending the same record in government.
Of course 5 years is an extremely long time in politics, the coalition might not even make it. But if it does it certainly makes sense for both parties campaign on their record in government. There are precedents: there has been previous elections in which Liberal and Tory supporters have not opposed one another. Surely both sides will want to maximise the anti-Labour vote, after all both Liberals and Tories share certain values that are fundamentally different from those of socialists; They believe in a powerful state, we believe in powerful and independent citizens. A pact may also be born out of pure self interest on the Lib Dem’s part. If the Tories remain high in the poles they could take many of the Lib Dem marginals in the south and without Tory support in the north they may well be squeezed by a resurgent Labour party.
If the coalition survives a full five years, as I hope it will, the best hope for both sides is a non-aggression pact and an effective ‘National Coalition’ slate of candidates to maximise the anti-Labour vote behind whichever candidate is best placed to oppose them.