Coalition divided

Posted on September 29, 2010

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David Miliband’s retirement from frontline politics was always going to dominate the news agenda once it was announced, and given the day the coalition government had been having up until that point you could forgive Cameron and co for being mighty relieved that the spotlight was off them at a moment when divisions within it were opening up for all to see.

Vince Cable’s attack on the bankers was justifiably big news, but divisions between the Tories and their Liberal Democrat counterparts were to be expected. What is more surprising is that disagreements are occurring between Conservative colleagues. Cuts, and tough decisions over which departments will bare the brunt of them, inevitably cause friction between politicians fighting for their own agendas. But few would have expected to see so many disagreements between Tory ministers so early.

First we had Iain Duncan Smith’s calculated act of rebellion against the chancellor as he fights to save his much-trumpeted welfare reforms from the axe. Hot in its heels comes Liam Fox’s warnings of ‘grave consequences’ should projected cuts to the Armed Forces go ahead as planned. Perhaps the objections of IDS and Fox were not meant to become as public as they have. And no doubt Osborne and Cameron have enough backing to proceed regardless of their qualms. Yet what these developments go to show is that the wisdom of heavy budget cuts is yet to be accepted within the cabinet, never mind the country. Much has been made of the potential for Lib Dems to desert the coalition when the true realisation of who they have got into bed with dawns. Never did we imagine that it would be Tory ministers being most vocal.

David Miliband’s departure from frontline politics is a blow to Labour. Yet with scope for analysis of brotherly divisions now cruelly taken from the media, perhaps now is the time for journalists to turn their guns on the government and an economic agenda that doesn’t even unite the Cabinet.

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Posted in: Politics