By Beth Rigby
Cameron flashed his tribal colours at the 1922 committee on Wednesday. He delighted his backbench MPs by insisting that there would be no concessions to the battered Lib Dems on the back of their dreary election performance, while also robbing Nick Clegg of his self-appointed title of the saviour of the NHS. To the thumping of tables, the prime minister made it very clear that the pause in the NHS reform was his idea.
But he was not the only one retrenching following a bruising AV campaign and local election. Earlier, in an address to his party at the National Liberal Club, Clegg also flexed some muscle as he reminded his deflated activists of all the policies that he had managed to block: replacing the Human Rights Act, cutting inheritance tax for the most wealthy, replacing Trident in this parliament.
The new coalition politics is not just synthetic. On Wednesday night, Lib Dem peers forced through a vote that will see new police commissioners to be appointed rather than elected. Clegg’s “muscular liberalism” would appear to have begun; although Labour points out that many Lib Dem peers voted – as their whips demanded – against the opposition amendment.