Coalition 'doomed to succeed' says Boris as Tories fear election
Tory backbenchers might hate teaming up with the Lib Dems - but they dread a snap election
BORIS JOHNSON declared this morning that the Conservative-Lib Dem Coalition was "doomed to succeed" and would last until 2015. In damning the coalition with faint praise, the Mayor of London is absolutely in tune with the feelings of grass-roots Tory supporters who fear a general election now more than they hate Nick Clegg and his Lib Dem coalition partners.
Boris was interviewed by the BBC as David Cameron and Nick Clegg prepared to use a joint press conference today to announce a £9.4bn investment in the railways to show that there is still life in the coalition dead parrot.
The investment plan includes the electrification of the Midland mainline from London to Sheffield (handy for Nick Clegg, should locals in Sheffield Hallam keep him as their MP) and a load of other previously announced schemes aimed at getting the economy going again, before 2015.
Clegg said this morning that it will require fare increases to pay for it, but it's "good for the economy and good for the environment" - key objectives of the coalition.
Cameron and Clegg would be more convincing if they unveiled a Coalition Contract Mark 2 setting out the policy agreements they intend to push through in the three years to the next general election. They can't do that, because they know they couldn't get agreement for a shopping list, so we are left with a list of a few capital schemes.
In The Sunday Times yesterday Cameron sounded like the shopkeeper in the Monty Python sketch insisting that the bird was not dead, but sleeping. The PM wrote: "It is working. This is a government with resolve and purpose."
It's all a long way from the love-in in the rose garden of 10 Downing Street in 2010.
Today's show of unity is intended to patch up the coalition following the rebellion by 91 Tory MPs who refused to follow Cameron and support Clegg's reform of the House of Lords.
Clegg has ordered the Lib Dem great and good to go out and be nice to the Conservatives. This morning Lib Dem energy minister Ed Davey echoed Sir Menzies Campbell on the Andrew Marr show yesterday by saying this is not "a pick and mix" coalition.
Meanwhile, Liam Fox, the former Defence Secretary, is on manoeuvres. Fox used an interview with The Sunday Telegraph to call for Cameron to "drive through" a Conservative agenda, and put the Lib Dems back in their box. In a message directed at Clegg and the Lib Dems, Foxy said: "What I think they have to remember is that they are a sixth of the coalition, not half of the coalition.
That is music to the ears of Tory grass-roots members who feel Cameron is giving in too much to Clegg.
Fox, who ran against Cameron for the leadership and lost, is now presenting himself as the leader of the dissident Conservatives. He would pose a real threat to Cameron and his coalition but for one thing - the Tories are in no mood for a snap general election.
A Sunday Times YouGov opinion poll showed the Tories trailing Ed Miliband's Labour Party by ten points. Closer examination of the polling results by the Mole shows that 67 per cent of Tory voters think Clegg is doing badly as Lib Dem leader, but 60 per cent of Tory voters want the coalition to last up to the election.
After that, the Tories want it declared dead, deceased, extinct - a former coalition.