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Keywords:

  • David Cameron;
  • Conservative party;
  • coalition government;
  • awkward partner;
  • reluctant coalitionists

The Conservative party has been the real awkward partner in the Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition government because its backbench MPs have rebelled more frequently than their Liberal Democrat counterparts since May 2010. This reflected the fact that the Conservatives were reluctant coalitionists to begin with: they would have preferred to see a minority Conservative government, they had made far too many concessions to the Liberal Democrats, they had been bounced into accepting a coalition deal by a controlling party leadership, and they had lost out on those ministerial positions now held by Liberal Democrats. There was thus no great enthusiasm for the establishment of a coalition government with the Liberal Democrats in the parliamentary Conservative party in May 2010. Conservatives merely resigned themselves to an outcome which they had been given little opportunity to influence and which David Cameron had made it very difficult for them to reject.