As the first Tory/Liberal coalition since 1918 takes shape, a number of side issues are emerging. Europe figures prominently, with William ‘Ague looking to repatriate powers from the EU (won’t happen), there is the matter of Corporal Clegg’s lack of upstanding Christian faith in a Government with just a few of the God squad within it, but top of the pile is by-elections.
There are always a few by-elections during the course of a Parliament, and these by definition occur at times least convenient to the incumbent party, or, as we now have, parties. Thus far, both Tory and Lib Dem have been represented separately in these contests, but now both parties are supposedly in coalition, so how will they square this one?
Well, in 1918, the Tories, and Liberals who followed Lloyd George into coalition with them were those who had “taken the coupon”: other Liberals, loyal to Herbert Asquith, would not sign up to the coalition. Will this be the way by-elections are fought in this world of the “New Politics”? Will we see “approved” candidates taking a 21st Century coupon? Or will both parties be allowed to compete with one another as before?
The thought has occurred that this question has not yet been faced. And, while that is understandable in the rush to get a credible Government established, it leaves a potential minefield out there in the long grass, with endless opportunity for mischief making by Labour, Greens, UKIP and the rest.The two-headed donkey rears its ugly heads once more.