‘Honoured that you are writing my father’s biography’ the late Tony Benn, ‘...wonderfully written’ Hilary Benn

‘Sparkles with fascinating detail…a remarkable story of Liberal and Labour politics in the first half of the twentieth century.’ Michael Crick, Political Correspondent, Channel 4 News

‘Casts much light both on the evolution of British radicalism, and on the legacy which he bequeathed to his son, Tony. Professor Vernon Bogdanor, King's College, London

‘Brilliant biography…wonderful reading about the father and...discovering more about the son.’ Steve Richards of The Independent

‘Well-written and carefully researched, this fascinating biography brings to life a major figure in British political history…an excellent job of weaving together the strands of a complex life…as well as filling in the background of the Benn family’ Richard Doherty, military historian

Sunday, 7 April 2013

How should the coalition end?

When the current coalition was formed, many people believed that it was unlikely to last the full parliamentary term. Now, most think that it probably will. History is on the side of the coalition surviving to the end. The most recent coalition government lasted five years from 1940 to 1945 and its predecessor National Government lasted nine years from 1931 to 1940.

But how should the current coalition be brought to a neat end? Does the example of 1945 offer any suggestions?

I discussed this with Vaughan Roderick on the BBC Radio Wales Sunday Supplement programme. You can listen here:

In May 1945 Churchill formed a caretaker government of Conservative and allied ministers for the last two months leading up to the election, with the other parties leaving in an orderly fashion to fight the election on their own programmes.

This could be a useful model for 2015, with David Cameron and Nick Clegg staging another Rose Garden event to end the coalition in, say, March 2015, with a handshake and a respectful parting of the ways. The major parties would then be seen to be offering their own independent manifestos in the election campaign, without an unseemly squabble within the coalition.

There is one more reason why David Cameron might be tempted by the idea of a caretaker interlude, as a way of calming his fractious party. The departure of the LibDems would create openings in the cabinet and other ministerial ranks for some more Conservatives to be rewarded with office, however brief. For an overlooked Conservative backbencher two months in office is a lot better than none.

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