The coalition between the Tories and Lib Dems was never a match made in heaven. But the fractious relationship is now breaking down in full public view.
This isn’t just about electoral reform. There is a real faultline in the coalition. After more than two years of this government the economy shows no sign of recovering. Yet the coalition still wants to push through massive cuts.
Now ministers have fallen out over the House of Lords and changing electoral boundaries. Some of this may be about having to placate the elements in both parties that are unhappy working in a coalition at all. But it shows that the Tories and Liberal Democrats are looking to the next election and they’re worried.
The Lib Dems, whatever they say, cannot claim to be softening the impact of Tory policies. They haven’t stopped government cuts. In fact they have championed the attacks alongside the Tories.
The Lib Dems made much of their plan to reform the House of Lords because they had little else to show for doing a deal with the Tories. Their election prospects are doomed and they are haemorrhaging members.
The Tories were enthusiastic supporters of the boundary changes to constituencies. This wasn’t because they thought it would be more democratic but because it would gain them at least 20 seats.
Things have got so bad Cameron’s position as leader has now come into question as the Tory party too sees its membership base shrinking.
Tory London mayor Boris Johnson flaunted Rupert Murdoch as his special guest to the Olympics last week. This was within days of ex-News of the World editor Rebekah Brooks and other New International journalists being charged over phone hacking.
Murdoch has praised Johnson and helped create a sense that he is being promoted by some Tories as a possible replacement for Cameron. Murdoch clearly feels no inhibitions about acting as a kingmaker in British politics.
Cameron will hope that a feelgood factor from the Olympics will rub off on him and his government. He may be disappointed. The bitterness that exists among millions of ordinary people about the austerity being imposed on them hasn’t gone away.
The prospect of more mass strikes and a gigantic TUC march against austerity in the autumn can mobilise this bitterness into a fight.
Politicians will spend the summer hatching plans to hammer us harder when they return from their villas and yachts. But they are weak and divided. If we get organised to build the greatest possible resistance we can break them.