There seems to be one rule for Tories and another for Liberal Democrats. While Conservatives stood by Vince Cable, their coalition partners are happy to feed Jeremy Hunt to the wolves. Lib Dems routinely criticise government policy and seek to renegotiate the coalition agreement while Tories act with the discipline that one expects of a governing party. This cannot continue. David Cameron needs to make it clear to Nick Clegg that he needs to rein in his fractious colleagues. There is only so long that angry Tory backbenchers will bite their tongues. Further public divisions will only damage both parties’ poll ratings further (if that is possible for the Lib Dems) and risks impacting Britain’s standing economically. For if Lib Dems can criticise the coalition on these issues, what is to stop them going rogue on deficit reduction and the economic and other reforms Britain so badly needs?
Donal Blaney is chief executive of the Young Britons’ Foundation.
The Lib Dems’ decision to play politics over the Jeremy Hunt censure vote will not be forgotten by aggrieved Conservative backbenchers. The opportunity for revenge at some future point will be relished. But, the coalition will hold steady. David Cameron will see this episode as a small show of public differentiation by a party continuing to languish in the polls. On tackling the really big issues, it will remain business as usual. The Eurozone crisis is moving into a dangerous new phase and will likely persist for the rest of the parliament. Public borrowing remains stubbornly high, but “deficit reduction” is a mantra that unites all coalition ministers. On public sector reform, especially schools and welfare, there is a large prize to be won – and the spoils divided between the parties. Internationally, there is much to worry about, but even more that keeps the coalition intact. Disputes over Jeremy Hunt will not cause any sleepless nights in Downing Street.
Mark Field is Conservative MP for the Cities of London and Westminster.