The Constitution Unit presents our new book The Politics of Coalition as the output of a major study of how the UK’s Conservative/Liberal Democrat Coalition is changing the way Britain is governed. The book aims to provide a practical guide for future coalitions, and to add significantly to the literature on coalition government in Britain.
In the book, lead authors Prof Robert Hazell and Dr Ben Yong, together with Peter Waller and Brian Walker, explore the inner workings of coalition government inside No 10, the Cabinet Office, Whitehall departments and Parliament. “Thanks to support from David Cameron and Nick Clegg, we got to see how the coalition works from the inside” Prof Hazell said. “Watching them in action quickly exploded the British myth that coalition government must be unstable, weak, and indecisive. This one was remarkably bold and decisive – and at the centre, remarkably harmonious”.
But it was a different story in Parliament. “As one of our interviewees said, ‘What we have is a coalition government, not a coalition Parliament’” Dr Yong added. “Parliament has seen unprecedented rebellions from the government’s supporters, from both parties. The government has survived so far thanks to its majority. But the troops are not happy, and if the coalition collapses, it will be in Parliament that it happens”.
In some 150 interviews conducted as research in action, candour was shown to the authors by ministers, parliamentarians, special advisers, officials of both parties, senior civil servants and media commentators. The book is full of quotations about the highs and lows, and the do’s and don’ts of coalition government.