The Constitution Unit at UCL has been carrying out an intensive interview-based study of the Coalition Government. They report that 'In Whitehall officials report that both parties have developed a lot of emotional intelligence and worked hard to develop effective relationships, in a welcome contrast from the Blair/Brown years.'
In Parliament, the Coalition 'has behaved no differently from any other majority government, taking Parliament for granted ... The coalition may have less flexibility to accommodate Parliament because its legislative proposals are already a carefully constructed coalition compromise which they dare not unpick.'
The Unit finds that 'The Lib Dems have had a lot of influence on coalition policy, but struggle to demonstrate it.' This finding is confirmed by another piece of research which has just been published which I hope to comment on subsequently.
A mid-term review of the coalition agreement is due to start this summer and finish in September 2012. This will be an opportunity for discontented backbenchers in both coalition parties to express their views. Conservative backbenchers have been upset recently by what they see as Lib Dem triumphalism over changes to the NHS reforms.
Many Conservative backbenchers on the right of the party think that cuts in the defence and law and order budgets have gone too far and would be prepared to cut the NHS budget (and/or introduce an element of charging).