Coalitions are coalescing all over the place, except for those that are falling apart. Backs are being scratched, horses traded, accusations levelled, apologies made, hints dropped, the other one pulled, categorical denials issued – and only a fully paid up political junkie can keep track.
That’s something I’m emphatically not, so I need your help to negotiate my way through SW1A. Let me see if I got this right:
Nick won’t play unless Dave taxes every rich bastard out of Britain. If he does, Nick will go along with the cuts that really aren’t, provided Dave commits to tax rises that really are. Are you with me so far?
At the same time Vince has been talking to Ed Balls – and texting him, for in spite of his mature age Vince swings with our high-tech times – about kicking the other Ed into touch and forming a Labour-LibDem coalition, while also talking to the other Ed about the future Chancellor’s job, which Ed Balls thinks is his for the asking, but which the other Ed is reluctant to promise him for fear that Balls will then go for the top job and get it.
So Ed M. is ready to strike first and knife Ed B. in the back, provided Vince does the same to Nick first and Dave second, thus really clearing the way to a proper coalition, not the one Nick and Vince are serving so loyally now with the transparent purpose of sending Dave on a fulltime lecture circuit in 2015 if not sooner.
But Dave isn’t quite ready to start lecturing anybody other than his cabinet colleagues, so he’s keen on getting out of the coalition with Nick and Vince. The original deal was that Dave would coalesce with a third party, which the LibDems no longer are, having lost that distinction to UKIP Nigel, who suddenly looks like a better bet as a coalition partner to Dave.
For his part Nigel doesn’t mind forming a coalition with Dave, though he has made it abundantly clear that he’d just as eagerly play with anyone who’d promise him an EU referendum, be that Nick, either Ed, Vince, Putin or, at a pinch, Hugo Chavez. Dave is ahead of the pack because he has experience in making that very pledge, but for some unfathomable reason Nigel isn’t entirely satisfied that Dave would be as eager to keep such a promise as he would be to make it.
The problem isn’t insurmountable, for Nigel would regain faith in Dave’s veracity if Dave opened a vein and signed the contract in blood. Yet Dave is unwilling to do so as he suspects that not many of his loyal friends would be falling over themselves to stop the bleeding. He’ll sign in ink and that’s his top offer, but Nigel won’t wear it.
Meanwhile, Jessye Norman says that Dave’s Chief Whip Andrew Mitchell has ‘retoxified the Tory brand’ by calling a policeman nasty names based on his class origin and mental ability, while also threatening to have his f—ing job for not letting Andrew ride his bike into Downing Street, which is what Boris is planning to do, at this point only figuratively… Sorry, my wife has just looked over my shoulder and informed me that it was the hack Matthew, not the singer Jessye, Norman who diagnosed the poisoning, and I can’t even tell her to sod off because according to Dave’s new law that would be the same as beating her up, and I’d end up in pokey for psychological cruelty.
And, silly me, I didn’t even know that ‘Tory’ was a brand, rather than the nickname of a political party working in our national interest. This changes the game, as far as I’m concerned, and Dave should really shift his emphasis from dumping Nick and coalescing with Nigel or, at a pinch, Hugo Chavez.
Instead he should focus on coming up with a catchy slogan encapsulating his brand proposition in such a way that punters would want to buy it. The time-proven options to consider would be ‘Dave reaches the parts neither Nick nor Ed does’, ‘Dave is it’, ‘Dave whitewashes whiter’ and ‘By George, or for that matter Boris, Dave won’t be undone!’ This last one really rolls off the tongue, doesn’t it?
Nick meanwhile has apologised for not having enunciated his promise not to raise tuition fees a bit more clearly, thereby leaving room for misinterpretation. The word ‘not’ inadvertently slipped between ‘will’ and ‘go up’, thus changing the meaning of Nick’s pledge that all along was intended to say, ‘Tuition fees will go up.’
Not everyone has accepted the apology, but Dave has, for the time being. He’ll keep Nick in the coalition because, if he doesn’t, Boris will barge into Downing Street on his own bike, and he’s the one Nigel would rather play with because, having once been bitten by Dave’s promises, he’s now twice shy, and Boris hasn’t lied to him yet though he probably will in the future.
You could see me wiping my brow even as we speak. So glad we’ve sorted out the mess. It took a while to understand the high principles animating our leaders, but we’ve got there in the end. Thanks for your help.