The 2010 coalition negotiations and Nick Clegg’s betrayal

Review of 5 Days in May by Andrew Adonis


Cool anger drives Andrew Adonis’s first-hand account of how Labour tried to stop the Liberal Democrats handing Britain over to a reactionary and incompetent Conservative administration. As a Blairite education and transport minister and a former member of the Social Democratic party, Adonis had spent his adult life believing a “progressive coalition” could unite the centre and left of British politics.

His five days in May 2010 negotiating on Labour’s behalf disabused him of that notion and much else besides.

“Clegg wouldn’t put the Tories in power, throwing over a British Liberal tradition going back a century and a half as a progressive anti-Tory party,” he thought as the electorate returned a hung parliament. When they heard that David Cameron was making Clegg a generous offer, Gordon Brown and much of the cabinet thought the “process would turn to our favour once the Tories and Lib Dems had rehearsed the extent of their differences”.

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