About the Coalition

Between 2010 and 2015 the UK experienced political life under the Coalition. It was an unusual coalition, though, with the smaller party – the Liberal Democrats – promising from the start to toe the line no matter what.


They and the Tories seemed never to have shared much common ground in the past. The prospect of those two parties joining up even making it onto the agenda was a jaw-dropper. But the Lib-Dems argued they had actual moral duties to support:lib-dem

  •  the party that gained the most votes or seats (the Tories)
  •  policies to prioritise reducing the deficit in the national interest (in the wake of the financial crisis)

In a way they seemed to be thinking more about queen and country than their own electoral supporters and party members. In their moral fervour the Lib-Dems even committed themselves to a guaranteed five-year term for the Coalition! In other words, no matter how the Tories behaved, the Coalition would stay intact.

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18 March 2003

We want to remember a date that must go down as an extremely disappointing one for a UK democracy worth its name. It was just two years before the May 2005 election when Labour got back into power with the lowest level of electoral support ever recorded. Were the two events connected?


We know your wife’s Dad was an actor but, honestly mate!

18 March 2003 was the day Tony Blair, prime minister of the UK, used his position of leadership to manipulate the House of Commons into his preference for an invasion of Iraq. He delivered a long, heavy and urgent demand for support from the amassed rows of MPs sitting in this country’s elected chamber.

A widespread view has been forming ever since that, for the UK and USA political leaderships, this was a conflict of choice spun as one of necessity.

Would-be orators looking in would have received the mother of lessons in the use of body language to win over an audience. Mr Blair never stopped bristling, gesticulating and quivering with passion and conviction. Nobody had seen him display any such animation on domestic issues (at least, not for the six or seven years since his days in opposition when hungry for power).

With the help of a predictably gung-ho approach from the Tories he won the day. The House surrendered, knowing in its heart it had sided against the apparent will of the country’s people – who had been turning out in millions to demonstrate against the idea. MPs probably went to bed that night with an uncomfortable feeling they had voted against their own instincts too. Most of us, the people, had massive doubts. Few had ever been more than half persuaded that an invasion of Iraq would be right.

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5 May 2005

The date shorthand 5.5.5 would have tripped off the tongue just as readily as 9/11 or 7/7. But the one good thing about 5 May 2005 was that no real blood was let. So, many people did not regard what happened on 5 May 2005 as anything very disastrous for a democracy. ‘5.5.5’ never caught on. Probably only a minority of people who read New Labour under Tony Blair was returned to power with a splendid 66 seat majority were horrified when they saw it was achieved with only 21% of those entitled to vote. That something so unrepresentative could occur right at the crucial point of electing a democratic western government for a period up to five years leaves some of us very baffled. May 2005 calendar alt 3And this feeling is compounded when many, after being made aware of the facts, seem willing to accept them with barely a shrug. It gets worse still when people argue we have to keep our distorted electoral system because it has, according to them, a number of exceptional qualities. Besides, we’re British and it’s the way we have always done it. But if the deep unfairness of 5.5.5 strikes a chord with you, please contribute to the blog on this website. The 5 May 2005 election is our main theme and our headline topic but note you can link to a number of other key issues. Continue reading