Traditionally UK politics is quiet over the summer (Parliament is in recess and everyone goes on holiday) and 2012 was no different.
There were however a couple of news stories to note:
1) David Cameron’s Ideology and Leadership
Cameron Bashing became an unofficial Olympic sport in 2012. As London Mayor Boris Johnson experienced a surge in popularity (listen to the crowd in this clip http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=os4GrgrVCCs). Some people have even suggested that Boris might be plotting a leadership coup- this piece of satire from ConservativeHome has quite a funny take on what Boris’ thoughts about a coup might be- http://conservativehome.blogs.com/thetorydiary/2012/08/draft-urrrggghhh-aaaarrrggghhh-an-angel-an-devil-wrestle-for-boriss-soul.html . In contrast to Boris David Cameron had a more difficult summer.
Firstly commentators have started to question his ideological position- is he a moderniser as he promised during the 2010 election campaign or is he in effect a Thatcherite. A nice Tory or a nasty one?
Most commentators have suggested that Cameron has been migrating towards the right in recent months.
These two posts from the LSE explore the evidence behind this allegation and suggest why Cameron’s position has evolved. http://http://blogs.lse.ac.uk/politicsandpolicy/2012/07/26/cameron-and-welfare-redford/#more-25483
This reappraisal of Cameron’s position has impacts on the similarities and differences between the Conservatives and Red Ed’s Labour Party.
2. The House of Lords
One of the explanations for Cameron’s drift to the right has been pressure from his backbenchers. Back bench opposition over the issue of House of Lords reform saw the abandonment of the policy during the summer. House of Lords reform had been a manifesto commitment for both the Conservatives and the Liberals in 2010 and July saw considerable debate about what could/ should be done to make the second chamber more democratic.
However this was curtailed when Cameron announced that the policy would be abandoned. Nick Clegg retaliated by saying that he would try to block the constituency boundary changes that David Cameron had proposed- these changes disproporationately benefit the Tory backbenchers who had threatened to derail Lords reform, prompted Cameron’s decision to scrap the policy. These acrimonious moments between Dave and NIck were a world away from the announcement of the coalition in the No. 10 rose garden back in May 2010. These developments led to a flurry of articles concerning the future of the coalition and indeed how asymmetric coalitions (e.g. coalitions with one big party and one little party) operate in general.
3. Scottish Independence (or not)
The success of Scottish athletes at the Olympics (and their supposed reluctance to sing God Save the Queen on the podium when the medal moment came) prompted some commentators to re- explore the issue of Scottish independence. The SNP has delivered on its promise and a referendum is planned for 2014- although there is currently some discussion over the wording of the question, the Guardian suggested that perhaps both the nationalists and the unionists would be better to seek a middle ground option e.g. ‘devo max’ or ‘independence lite’
Finally a bit of a heads up on a news story that you haven’t missed (yet). David Cameron is about to reshuffle his Cabinet- many people believe this is his last opportunity to do something really radical (within the realms of Cabinet reshuffling) before the election. Today’s Guardian has an excellent piece on some of the potential combinations of moves (think chess but with human beings!).