Introduction: Conflict, Cooperation and the Cameron–Clegg Government

Judi Atkins

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Following the inconclusive result of the last general election, David Cameron made a ‘big, open and comprehensive offer’ to Nick Clegg to form a partnership government. Four days later, on 11 May 2010, Britain had its first peacetime coalition since the 1930s. Despite widespread predictions to the contrary, the Conservative–Liberal Democrat government has survived for a full parliamentary term. While its period in office was marked by bitter disagreements over issues such as constitutional reform and Europe, it is equally clear that the two parties were able to work well together in other areas, notable among which are education and foreign policy. This raises a number of questions. Why did certain initiatives prove to be particularly contentious? Conversely, why was cooperation on other policies relatively straightforward? How did the two leaders seek to manage conflict within and between their respective parliamentary parties? What was the longer-term impact of the Coalition on Britain's constitutional arrangements? It was in order to address these questions that the contributors to this special section participated in a conference supported by a British Academy/Leverhulme Small Research Grant (award no: SG121411) and The Political Quarterly which took place at Congress Centre, London in January 2015.

This is the peer reviewed version of the following article: Atkins, J 2015, 'Introduction: Conflict, Cooperation and the Cameron–Clegg Government' Political Quarterly, vol 86, no. 1, pp. 81–84.
which has been published in final form at
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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)81–84
JournalPolitical Quarterly
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2015


  • coalition
  • UK government


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