Timothy Heppell
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Political binding
Coalition unity and the exploitation of the Liberal Democrats
in Cameron
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Chapter 6 considers how the Liberal Democrats were exploited in legislative terms within the coalition. The chapter provides an overview of the coalition in terms of legislative cohesion. Having identifying the high rate of dissent, and the issues that provoked dissent, the chapter will explore how despite this it made little impact upon the credibility of Cameron as Prime Minister – i.e. perceptions differed for him as a coalition Prime Minister experiencing rebellion. The chapter will also provide an overview of the consequences for the Liberal Democrats of binding themselves legislatively to the Conservatives. The chapter will highlight the issue of austerity being in the national interest and not ideologically driven and tuition fees, as examples of how the distinctiveness of the Liberal Democrats was undermined by being in coalition. Having evaluated the conundrum of providing unity to the government versus maintaining their own distinctiveness for electoral reasons, the chapter considers the limited evidence of the Liberal Democrats being seen to have influence within the coalition. The chapter identifies how this amounted to a success for Cameron as evidenced from the gains made by the Conservatives, at the expense of the Liberal Democrats, at the 2015 General Election.

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The politics of modernisation and manipulation


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