Tuesday, 24 May 2011

The Dave and Nick show

Despite the revival of formal Cabinet Government, it is interesting how much the Coalition Government depends on informal arrangements and in particular the personal relationship between David Cameron and Nick Clegg. This emerged from a presentation to the Magna Carta Institute seminar last week by Professor Robert Hazell of the Constitution Unit at UCL.

Cabinet committees are being taken more seriously and there is a right to refer issues up to the Coalition Commitee, but this ultimate star chamber has met only twice. The Coalition Operation and Strategic Planning Group was intended to meet weekly, but has been replaced by informal processes. Cabinet Committees resolve interdepartmental issues, not coalition issues.

Much depends on the bilaterals between Dave and Nick. They usually chat on the phone on Sunday evening and have a regular meeting each Monday morning. The Quad is made up of the PM and Deputy PM, plus the Chancellor and the Chief Secretary to the Treasury. Sometimes it functions as 'Quad plus' when other ministers are brought in. There are slo bilaterals between Oliver Letwin and Danny Alexander, as well as Letwin's 'policy catch ups'.

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