It is now plain that there is deadlock between Cameron and Clegg over who will be Home Secretary. That is hardly surprising. I have argued before that the most important political dividing line in this country is not left and right, but between libertarian and authoritarian.
New Labour was the most authoritarian government this country has seen since the days of Lord Liverpool. Home Secretaries David Buinkett, Charles Clarke, Jack Straw and John Reid led a full-on attack on civil liberties in this country. I have no time whatsoever for those commenters who would have preferred the evil men of New Labour o remain in power.
The Lib Dems are strongly tilted to the libertarian side, though they do have authoritarians, and that wing is close to Clegg.
But the Tories are absolutely split down the middle on libertarian/authoritarian lines. A lot of Tories want to ban immigrants, deport hundreds of thousands and lock up very many more people than our prisons can hold. Cameron would be in huge problems with his right wing if he put a Lib Dem in charge of the Home Office.
But equally the Lib Dems could not accept a Tory right winger. The ludicrous neo-con, second home flipper and cheerleader for uninformed Islamophobia, Michael Gove, will get the job according to Iain Dale. I do not see how the Lib Dems can live with tat, nor with Chris Grayling and his dodgy attitude to gay rights. David Davis’ genuine belief in civil liberties alarms some of his own party. This is an important development to watch.
I have not yet heard any mention of reform of the House of Lords. I would have thought that should have been a fundamental point for the Lib Dems.
Perhaps predictably, Cameron has resolved the situation by appointing a non-entity, Theresa May. She has always struck me as vacuous and unpleasant. But the great offices line up of Cameron, Osborne, Hague, Fox and May looks very right wing indeed. I think there is going to be a great deal of unhappiness in the Lib Dems about this – including me.
May has a mixed record – for example against ID cards and war on terror legislation, but also anti-gay rights, and pro Iraq war.