As much as I enjoy watching political interviews, there are 2 things about them that frustrate me. The first is that the interviewer has a tendency to interrupt the politician at times (Andrew Marr and Jeremy Paxman are very guilty of this). The second is that the politician interviewed won't always give a direct answer. I know, I know, it's what they're known for, but a politician who's not always worming around the question and turning it into what he wants to talk about is a more honest and open politician. Saying that though, I'm not sure why the media was getting in a huff when it was announced that VAT is "expected" to go up, and of course the financial ministers aren't giving a yes/no answer as to whether it will go up or not. First of all, they don't want to worry anyone while they look carefully at the figures and possibilities and secondly, any VAT rises won't come into effect until April at the earliest so far as I can see.
For some reason, everyone's also waiting for the coalition to collapse. If you're going to be cynical at least give them a few months to do their jobs and then you can make a judgement. They've only been in power a week but ever since their joint press conference in the rose garden (Cameron's and Clegg's that is) columnists and reader-contributors alike have been making bets which issue(s) will tear the coalition apart. Good God! It's almost like everyone's subconscious thought is: Britain does not have coalitions! They cannot work here!
I do remember that one question Marr posed Cameron on Sunday was how much he actually wanted a coalition government, since the media are convinced that the impression the Prime Minister and his deputy (who should actually be holding the title of 'Deputy Prime Minister and Head of Reform' considering his duties) were trying to give during their conference last Wednesday (last week in fact) was that despite their differences during the election campaign, they actually wanted a coalition government. I didn't see any attempt by Cameron to hide his feelings about election day and election results day. Saying that, while I find his story about being inspired to have a coalition government when he woke up Friday morning to be sincere, he didn't reveal anything of the mixed feelings he must have been getting late Thursday night as the results came in.
Here's my impression of Clegg's and Cameron's views on the current coalition government: they didn't really want one, at least not with each other. Clegg spoke throughout the campaign and political debates about the importance of cross-party debate and cooperation on certain issues, the topic of public sector pay being one of them. Having been an MEP and interacting with other MEPs from countries where coalitions are the norm, he has definitely always been open to the idea. So before the election, Clegg simply wanted to see how many Lib Dem seats there would be and to take things from there. Cameron, of course, hoped that the Conservatives would get an outright majority but when it didn't happen, he considered his options. Brown was still the Labour leader, so he definitely wanted nothing to do with him. The Liberal Democrats, on the other hand, have a lot of talent. Since, in his own words, the PM found the idea of a minority government "uninspiring" he was more open to the idea of forming a coalition with the Lib Dems so that there was a strong government who could bring change and reform to the country. I think that's why I'm optimistic about the coalition, for once party differences are being compromised in order to better the country. So no, neither leader had always wanted a coalition even before the election occurred, but are they happy with the coalition and its arrangements now? Yes. That was what they wanted to make clear in the rose garden.
By the way, the BBC's Laura Kuensberg deserves a medal. She stood outside 10 Downing Street for nearly 24 hours after the elections drew to a close and then spent 12 hours every day outside no. 10 the entire next week. Applaud her everyone!