Into the rose garden

The UK has finally become a normal European country.

That must be the unavoidable conclusion from the fact that we’re now ruled by a real coalition government, bringing together liberals and conservatives.

I welcome it.

It’s not that I’m fond of the Tories at all. However, it was clear that Labour were very, very tired and in need of some time in opposition to regain their strength.

I was also very worried about what a majority Tory government would do, in particular whether they would ruin our relationship with Europe beyond repair.

I would have loved to see a pure LibDem government, but it was never realistic for the party to jump from about 60 seats to more than 325.

So I think the Lib-Con coalition is the least bad option. As I wrote back in October:

Of course, it’s unlikely that the LibDems will get a majority, but it’s not at all impossible that the Tories will need their votes to gain power, which would be a great outcome: The LibDems could prevent the Tories from doing anything really stupid in Europe, and the two parties could probably agree on a feasible economic recovery plan.

I don’t agree with those LibDem supporters who think the party had to team up with Labour. If you can only work with one party, why don’t you join them instead? Also, I’m sure teaming up with a tired party would simply have lead to a Tory landslide shortly after the savage cuts (that unfortunately are necessary) had been implemented.

I also don’t agree with those who think the LibDems should have remained pure and refused to govern. If you get a chance to implement a large part of your manifesto, is that not better than seeing other parties’ manifestos implemented instead?

Politics is the art of the possible (to quote Bismarck), and if you just want to be idealistic and not see how sausages are made, you should probably put your efforts into charity, not politics.

The Times has found an appropriate poem, Burnt Norton by T. S. Eliot:

Footfalls echo in the memory
Down the passage which we did not take
Towards the door we never opened
Into the rose garden.

They then conclude that “David Cameron and Nick Clegg dared to open the door into the rose garden.”

I wouldn’t be quite so enthusiastic about it, but I think this government is a better outcome of this election than I had dared hope.