This is a genuinely exciting political moment. It is the government the country wanted: Cameron, with Clegg; a fired-up blue Quattro, with yellow brakes. It is also uncharted territory. Cameron must now reframe the central narratives of his leadership—the big society, broken Britain, vote blue/go green, the post-bureaucratic age—to create a new “Lib-Con” narrative. Clegg must define his contribution to the government as specifically liberal; distinct enough that the government’s sum total is not the same as Cameron governing alone. The danger for Clegg was put neatly on Twitter this morning: Q: what would have happened if IBM had actually merged with Apple in the 1980s? A: IBM.
In short, this young government needs a theory: a narrative of its own, one which draws on that which unites Clegg and Cameron, but is also mindful of those wings of each party—the LibDem left and the Tory right—that is not comfortable with this unexpected shotgun union. Here are six things I would read to get a quick handle on this unusual liberal-conservative moment.