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29 September 2014

There’s no point in the Tories yearning for their missed majority in 2010

"Look at what you would've won" is a fruitless strategy for the Tories at their conference; the Lib Dems' plummet in popularity is still a worthwhile price to pay for what the coalition has achieved.

By Richard Morris

Like a posh Jim Bowen, George Osborne will be reminding the Tory faithful today at conference of everything he promised them before 2010 and saying that, if only they had delivered a majority last time round, “look at what you would have won”.

All the Chancellor’s old favourites, like the abolition of inheritance tax, are likely to be rolled out, a theme that will be echoed by other ministers throughout the rest of this conference. “Remember everyone”, they’re going to say, “if we’d won last time, we’d be shot of the human rights act; we could be hammering immigrants, regardless of whether they own a cat or not; the snoopers charter would be in place; tuition fees wouldn’t have tripled – they’d be unlimited; we’d probably already have had a European Union referendum; and our good friends Douglas and Mark would still be representing the True Blue party”.

Yes, all of that is going to be rolled out on George and David’s conveyor belt of prizes, and you would be driving home with it already if it wasn’t for those pesky Lib Dems.

Now of course, this is not a sentiment that goes down well with the average New Statesman reader, who prefers to think of the Lib Dems as a bunch of quisling collaborators who have enabled the Tories to embark on a right-wing agenda that has changed the face of Britain forever. Frankly, this is a view also shared by a large swathe Lib Dem activists, as next week’s conference in Glasgow will surely illustrate, and, as the polls indicate, much of the electorate. No one in the party will argue that being in government with the Tories has been easy.

But compare it to what the Tories would have done if they had secured any sort of majority and hadn’t had to go into coalition, combined with the things we are proud of delivering in government – income tax thresholds up, Pupil Premium, Equal Marriage et al – and suddenly you begin to think that the current polling may just be a price worth paying.

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