'Together in the National Interest':The Rhetoric of Unity and the Formation of the Cameron-Clegg Government


Following the formation of the Conservative-Liberal Democrat government in May 2010, David Cameron and Nick Clegg sought to persuade party members, the electorate and a sceptical media that their partnership would hold together for the duration of the parliament. Taking as its starting point Kenneth Burke’s theory of rhetoric as identification, this article explores the strategies employed by senior Coalition figures to construct and present an image of unity to these different audiences. Of particular concern are appeals to the parties’ shared values and to the ‘national interest’, as well as the narrative of Britain’s ‘debt crisis’. This narrative served to minimise inter-party divisions by inviting MPs and supporters to unite behind the cause of deficit reduction, in opposition to the ‘fiscally irresponsible’ Labour Party that had allegedly wrecked the economy. The article concludes by reflecting on the lessons for the partners in a future UK coalition government.

Publication DOI: https://doi.org/10.1111/1467-923X.12140
Divisions: College of Business and Social Sciences > School of Social Sciences & Humanities
Additional Information: This is a pre-copyedited, author-produced PDF of an article accepted for publication in Political Quarterly following peer review. The version of record Atkins, J. (2015), ‘Together in the National Interest’: The Rhetoric of Unity and the Formation of the Cameron–Clegg Government. The Political Quarterly, 86: 85-92. is available online at: https://doi.org/10.1111/1467-923X.12140
Publication ISSN: 1467-923X
Last Modified: 08 Dec 2023 10:52
Date Deposited: 16 Oct 2018 09:12
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Related URLs: https://onlinel ... 1467-923X.12140 (Publisher URL)
PURE Output Type: Article
Published Date: 2015-03-26
Authors: Atkins, Judi (ORCID Profile 0000-0002-7391-4685)



Version: Accepted Version

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