Keeping this coalition together means that the government must first and foremost do the job it was elected to do: to deliver, as the Conservative manifesto put it,
But perceived priorities matter. Tories must bear in mind that the whole issue of Europe fascinates them to a much greater degree than it does the voters. While the referendum will inevitably divide the party, they must at all costs keep it civil.
What did wavering 1992 voters who plumped for John Major’s promise of opportunity for all and feared Labour’s ‘double whammy’ think when, a year later, the Conservative Party tore itself to shreds over the Maastricht Treaty?
And what would happen if the coalition of voters that elected the Tories in 2015, expecting competence and leadership and steady progress on the economy, were treated to a repeat performance?
Cameron began on the right note the morning after the election, promising on the steps of No. 10 to govern ‘as a party of one nation, one United Kingdom’, and to ensure the recovery ‘reaches all parts of our country, from North to South, East to West’.
(Lord Michael Ashcroft, writing in his analysis of the results of the 2015 General Election, The Unexpected Mandate.)