Wednesday, May 12, 2010

How will it all work?

Day 1 of a new Government and the sun is shining, there was hardly any traffic on the roads as I drove to work, England are in the semi-finals of a cricket tournament and all is right with the world.

The only question is: how on earth will this coalition with the Lib Dems actually work?

Some of it will become clear as the day goes on, but a lot of the logistics will have to be thought up on the hoof. Here are eight questions that worry me:

1) Will Nick Clegg get to question David Cameron at Prime Minister's Questions? He was able to ask Gordon Brown two questions a week, now will the Lib Dems get no opportunity to criticise the Tories?

2) When Cameron is away, Clegg as Deputy PM will be at the despatch box for PMQs but how wholeheartedly will he defend Tory policy that he doesn't really agree with? Expect many of the Labour questions when Clegg does PMQs to be about Europe and defence. And will senior Tories decide to attack Clegg while their master is absent?

3) What will happen at by-elections? Presumably both parties will field candidates and they will fight on slightly different platforms yet both will effectively be campaigning to join the Government.

4) What will happen to the Lib Dem quota on Question Time or Any Questions? They are entitled to appear on five out of every seven programmes at present. Will that go up or down and how much attacking of the Tory panelists will they do?

5) What happens when MPs die or defect? If 19 seats move (maybe some Lib Dems would consider defecting to the Tories if they enjoy life in Government), the Tories wouldn't need their partners any more.

6) Where, physically, will they all sit? Although there are 650 MPs, there are only about 430 seats for them, which means that if the entire Tory Party sits on the Government benches, there will be room for only half a dozen Lib Dems. Do Tories get seating rights over the Liberals or is that divided proportionately?

7) Will all jokes about quiche-eating beardies and fox-hunting toffs be banned?

8) What do we call this coalition? Conservacrats? Conliberalives? Democons?

The Vole: asking all the key questions

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