Another day, another series of talks, and no sign yet of a new Government emerging. All the parties are, in public at least, being remarkably civil to one another, yet agreement has not come. Why might that be?
Well, it could be to do with the C-word: as in Coalition. There can be no doubt that the Tories want to bring the Lib Dems into one, and equally no doubt that the Lib Dem negotiators – including Lloyd George Liberal Chris Huhne – know that the last time they did that, as Harry Callahan observed in the pool hall, they ended up with the cue up their arse.
The Tory push for coalition got under way as former PM “Shagger” Major was wheeled out to float the view that yielding a few cabinet posts would be a price worth paying for a stable Government. This continued on today’s Andy Marr Show with “Oiky” Gove giving that rarest of politicians’ answers: a straight “yes” when asked if he would be prepared to cede the education portfolio to the Lib Dems.
And so negotiations got under way, with the coalition talk now floated in the Tory cheerleading part of the blogosphere: Iain Dale, a compliant and reliable conduit for Tory propaganda, has jumped on the “Change Coalition” bandwagon, deploying this otherwise meaningless phrase with palpable enthusiasm.
What Dale has managed to miss is that the body that really matters in the Tory Party, the 1922 Committee (and he shouldn’t need to ask Chris Huhne where that particular moniker came from), has not yet met and pronounced on the talks – that will happen tomorrow afternoon. And today’s talks have ended without any conclusion other than the usual flannelspeak “very positive and productive”.
Will there be a coalition? I still doubt it. The best Cameron can hope for is a less formal understanding, and as I’ve already said, he’ll have to get on and form a minority Government. There is no appetite for another election any time soon: all he needs to do is to address the real issues and blank out the rest.And there will not be a new Government in place when the markets open tomorrow morning. The sky will not fall in, and the residents of the casino, like the rest of us, will have to be patient and get used to it.