I think the Miliband brothers should form a coalition, it’s so this season!
Jokes aside, I'm generally in favour of coalitions because they temper excesses and offer stability. ‘Strong governments’ only turn into an ‘elected dictatorship’. This is because Parliament stops being a check on the executive as soon as the executive can rely on the party’s majority to get everything through. The courts tend to do the government’s bidding, so we’re stuffed. The champions of strong governments tend to forget that the point of government, in a democracy, is to reflect the public will and represent voters, not to impose one party’s ideology. The flawed logic of strong government can be taken to the extreme (and it has) to argue for a one-party rule.
I'm supportive of the present Lib-Tory coalition as it's the most democratic arrangement. The Tories got 36% of the vote, to go with Labour and other parties would have been a stitch up and an impossible coalition. I'm disappointed by the many concessions but it's difficult to comment on negotiations of which one is not party. Obviously a lot will have to be discussed and bargained in the years to come. There are, however, many good things such as fairer taxation by raising personal allowance; a long list of measures to protect civil liberties; an attempt at regulating the banking system; some ‘green’ policies.
You never know how coalition agreements are implemented, but what I’m uncomfortable with is the mediocrity implicit (well, it’s very explicit actually) in the understanding the Tories have of Britain as a country. This is evident in their approach to immigration (see previous comment) and Europe. The Lib Dems were not arguing for entry in the euro now, but for co-operation with European partners rather than pointless criticism and distance (not to mention the Tories’ choice of partners in the European Parliament). As argued before, nobody can tackle the environment, economy and immigration (to name a few) on its own.
Our democratic sovereignty depends on cooperation across Europe (and a stronger voice for the European Parliament). The Tories are stuck in fantasy-land and cling on to the fairy tale of 'parliamentary sovereignty' (denounced even by Dicey who was its greatest theorist). As the markets have shown, national sovereignty counts for nothing. Sovereignty didn't stop Argentina filing for bankruptcy, it didn't stop Britain from having to leave the common exchange rate after Black Wednesday and is not stopping speculators having a field day against Greece. Sovereignty, if anything, only protects the privilege of a few. During WWII, German Jews, French Jews, Polish Jews were citizens of sovereign countries, did their citizenship protect them? No, they got direct tickets for Auschwitz. It is individuals, their rights and freedoms, who matter.
I would have liked something bolder but the Lib Dems lost 5 seats and, with them, bargaining power. The media educated the public on the intricacies of the first past the post system and told people how to vote tactically. Surprise, surprise the Lib Dems didn’t do as well as expected. I believe it’s a start and I wish journalists had some integrity in reporting rather than constantly trying to find differences between the two parties, to argue for the break up of the coalition, or similarities, to argue for a merging of the two parties. I suggest they spend some time abroad and get to grips with coalition politics. Coalitions are NOT marriages. You need trust, but you don't have to like one another, you don't even need the same values. You need to be pragmatic and put government before party.