Sometimes my Conservative colleagues cause me despair. Never more than when they attack our coalition partners, the Lib Dems. I wonder what planet they're on whenever I hear references to "The tail wagging the dog". Some even advocate bringing down the coalition. Ill-considered nonsense in my opinion. Triumph of hope over reason. Its actually time for re-declarations of love, not filing for divorce.
Lets look at some of the facts.
1) The Conservatives did not win the last General Election. There was certainly a case for 'going it alone' at the time, and instigating another election in a year or so which would hopefully deliver victory - but we didn't. We took a clear direction and decided that the economic and financial challenges were such that a coalition was the better option. Nothing has changed.
2) Its was the Lib Dems who had to make the biggest concessions - admittedly because their manifesto was hopelessly undeliverable. They signed up to higher student fees - despite promising the opposite. They signed up to a VAT increase despite making such a big deal of opposing this. 3)They signed up to nuclear power despite being supposedly anti-nuclear. And the consequence of this is that their opinion poll support has bombed. They took the massive risk of growing up from being woolly hatted idealists into hard headed realists. It was courageous.
3)Without the Lib Dems, the current Government wouldn't last long. OK, so fixed term parliaments are enshrined in law, but I do not believe we could limp on until 2015. I want to see Nick Clegg remain DPM, and the Coalition last the full five year term. I suggest some of my colleagues think how they'd feel with Ed Miliband as PM and Vince Cable/Tim Farron as DPM. Time they got real and stayed real.
I accept that I've always had a generally 'warm' attitude to Lib Dems - despite always having been committed to defeating them in Montgomeryshire. I developed my political interest working with former Montgomeryshire MPs, Emlyn Hooson and Alex Carlile, both hugely able politicians. Worth remembering that Emlyn was sceptical about the EU and Alex seems to have more support today on Tory benches than on his own party's.
And ask yourself what the Lib dems have got out of the Coalition. All their constitutional ideas have gone up in smoke. Their activists are in despair. And their biggest success, the huge uplifting in income tax free allowances, is a policy most Conservatives are delighted with.
Inevitably, there are some Lib Dems, both locally and nationally that I do not care for, and I'm sure that's mutual. Same applies between all parties and within them. Its just no big deal. Since I was selected to contest Montgomeryshire in 2007, none of my team has said one derogatory word about Montgomeryshire Lib Dems - and we pulled off the most spectacular victory at the 2010 election. Its a lesson worth learning. Some call it 'love-bombing'. Its time to buy some chocolates and flowers and turn again to our love armoury.