So we have a Conservative/Liberal Democrat coalition government (those words, I think, throw the difference between the British and American political weltanschaung into stark relief).
I'm really not a fan of the Conservatives; 18 years of ThatcherMajorism left deep scars. (If you're American and not a fan of George W. Bush, it was like this: Thatcher treated her foes with exactly the same contempt as Bush's people did. And eighteen years of contempt backed up by malice and a legislative sledgehammer leave very bad memories.)
On the other hand, the coalition platform seems to have retained a surprisingly large chunk of the LibDem platform on civil liberties. A lot of the most objectionable illiberal and authoritarian measures of the past decade look likely to be repealed in the early days of the new government. (This isn't as odd as it may sound to outsiders; the Conservatives have long harboured a Libertarian faction, and Cameron appears to identify with them strongly on some issues.) On constitutional reform, it looks like we're getting a fully elected upper house to replace the House of Lords, and a full referendum on electoral reform for the lower house — although the conservatives reserve the right to campaign against their coalition partners. I don't like the cap on non-EU immigration, but I suspect it was politically inevitable, as likely under a Labour government as this one.
All in all ...
We've got a government that, for the first time since the 1930s, more than 50% of the voters voted for. There are a lot of positive policies here, on civil liberties and constitutional reform. There are some stinkers, but fewer than I expected. There is also a systemic weakness, insofar as the extreme fringe of either of the coalition parties have the ability to take down the government. So we're probably going to see lots of compromises. In particular, I'm hoping the Liberal Democrats act as an effective brake on the Conservatives (who I fear are capable of behaving much like Stephen Harper's Canadian tories if governing on their own). But I'm deathly afraid of what the Conservatives are going to do about unemployment and drug usage, to name but two aspects of domestic policy where the doctrinaire right wing model is broken (and unemployment is at its highest level since 1994).
I don't think Nick Clegg had any choice but to negotiate with the conservatives, given the noises emanating from some senior Labour politicians: hubris led to a revolt that doomed their effort to form a coalition. And I find it hard to blame Clegg for wanting to be in the lifeboat, rather than swimming along behind it.
So I'm going to hold my nose, and abstain from throwing bricks at the Liberal Democrats for the next six months, by which time we should have some idea of what the unprecedented-in-British-political-history Conservative/Liberal Democrat coalition means.
PS: I am waiting for tomorrow's newspapers. If the Murdoch press comes out in violent opposition to the coalition, I will take it as a promising sign ...