Try and be too Liberal and our coalition partners do all they can to put a spanner in the works. They surely feel much the same about us. Try and find a happy compromise and you end up with everyone hating you.
And the danger is you sink into a sea of obfuscation and intransigence and get absolutely nowhere. Or worse, you go native – or at least let the world think that you have. Then you end up hating yourself.
Is this ringing any bells?
Which is why we probably need more people inside the party who have experience of making coalition work, understand the inherent dangers, can get things done and keep both our reputation and soul intact.
I suspect that this is one of the reasons why the appointment of Ryan Coetzee as the new strategic advisor to Nick Clegg is a shrewd choice.
Like many members I have heard many good things about Ryan since he joined us. But until I read this article, it hadn’t really clicked that we now have someone at Nick’s elbow with on the ground experience of making coalition government work. And even taken a party in to government and growing its share of the vote. Heavens above.
I was never a fan of the ‘not a cigarette paper between us’ approach to government. So I hope Ryan’s experience of making coalitions work will show us how we can not only deliver Lib Dem policies in government but keep our own character and philosophy not just alive, but actively enhanced.
Being in coalition has been much more difficult and painful than I think many of us realized. I’m banking that Ryan can help make us more effective in government – and also remove some of the tarnish that being in government has left on our reputation.