Charles Kennedy: I’ve learned to love the coalition

In a piece for Prospect magazine, published today, former Liberal Democrat leader Charles Kennedy gives his backing to the coalition government.

Though Kennedy didn’t vote in favour of the coalition last May, abstaining instead, he now backs it:

I admit that this coalition wasn’t exactly my preferred option. I’ve always considered myself in the reforming, centre-left tradition, so a centre-right arrangement puts my compass in a spin … But those of us who genuinely wanted to explore other routes—from a rainbow coalition to a minority Tory administration— were sunk when figures like David Blunkett and John Reid were so against it. I’m in no doubt that a sizeable swathe within Labour were happier in the luxury of opposition, knowing how hard economically things would be. Much of their outrage at coalition decisions they would have probably taken themselves is synthetic at best.

Kennedy also says the coalition is likely to last the full term (something I’ve also argued):

Once the deal was done, I was in no doubt it would endure for this parliament. Even Ed Miliband, despite some of his leadership campaign rhetoric, seems to have concluded he’s in long-haul opposition.

He expects the party to stay united despite the uncertainties about what the future will bring:

Despite recent setbacks, the Lib Dems are a much more resilient bunch than we are usually given credit for. We wouldn’t have survived otherwise. this calendar year is going to be a tough one, but the real fortunes of the party will hinge on the economic prognosis in the third and fourth years of this parliament. It is simply too early to tell what that will be.

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