I’m definitely one of those Conservatives for whom the coalition has been a real eye-opener. I wasn’t keen when the talks were taking place, especially when it seemed that the Lib Dems were playing the two sides off against each other by holding talks with Labour. And the political animal in me just didn’t like the idea of power sharing. I hadn’t been tramping the streets for months on end to elect anything but a Conservative government.

But as time has passed I’ve become a real fan.

Part of it is because of my basic approach to politics. I’m not interested in power for power’s sake. It isn’t what motivates me, instead I’m there because I believe in some basic principles (low tax, freedom of the individual, a small state) and because I believe I can help by being part of the change towards that, but not because I have a particular desire for power.

It’s possibly principles that makes me such a coalition fan; it has to be based on principles, they are what bind the two partners together, as well as highlighting their differences so they maintain their individual characters. It is such a contrast from the Labour, for whom it seemed that gaining and retaining power was the emphasis of Blair and Brown.

And then we get things like Your Freedom. It will be years before we know how much government policy is being driven by the Conservatives and how much is being driven by the Liberal Democrats, but I can’t help but think that a lot of the civil liberty agenda is coming from the Lib Dems. And, if that’s true, thank God for them.

There is part of me that thinks it doesn’t go far enough. It’s all very well asking what legislation or regulations should be repealed, for example, I’ve never understood why we don’t make more use of sunset laws – so legislation has a defined life unless expressly extended (and, by implication, has a justification for that extension). However, it is a refreshing start and not just a civil liberty issue, but also an example of the big society, allowing people to play a part in the government.

I still can’t help but think it’s an incredibly exciting time for government and the country. There are huge challenges as a result of years of Labour mismanagement, but they will force us to focus on what’s really important for the nation and the area, but will also mean there are opportunities for people to directly be involved in the running of services.

I know that there will be groups who take responsibility for schools or services that I don’t like or agree with; that is an inevitable consequence of devolving powers to people. But even with that, it makes for a healthier and better society when people, not politicians, are the ones holding the power.

And extending that approach to government, perhaps it’s healthier when power has to be shared between two coalition partners than when it is held by a single party. I’m still a Conservative (and would probably still prefer a single party government) but I’m worrying I’m detecting distinct liberal tendencies in my advancing years.

I only occasionally comment on politics on here. I think I managed to avoid it almost entirely during the election campaign, and to a degree I’m rather proud of that: avoiding politics during an election is what 98% of the population do which makes me decidedly normal.

The irony is that I’m now getting more and more excited by politics. Having been a self-declared semi-detached politician for so long I’m re-thinking it all.

There are a few reasons for this. For a start, I’m increasingly becoming a fan of the coalition. I was instinctively against coalitions, I’m not sure that horse-trading – with the third placed party conducting negotiations with both Labour and the Conservatives – should be the way the government is formed.

But that’s what we were left with. And the end result isn’t too bad. I was pleased to see the strong commitment to civil liberties, for example, that came out from the coalition agreement and pleased to see that localism remains a key policy (whether or not it’s wrapped up in the ‘Big Society’).

The other reason for my rediscovered excitement is the challenge we all face. And this isn’t just the Conservatives, or Liberal Democrats, nor just central government, but everyone. The letter left by Liam Byrne, Labour’s Chief Secretary to the Treasury, to his successor was telling: “I’m afraid there is no money.” A revealingly honest assessment from a government that, having run up record debt, put off the difficult decisions that needed to be taken.

We will all be paying the price for some years to come. It is a price we would have had to pay whatever the outcome of the election, and it won’t be easy. So why am I excited by something that is likely to be so painful?

It’s because it makes politics important again.

I wrote an article for the Local Government Information Unit’s C’llr magazine recently that used an example of some work I did with a local authority in the north. The political leadership had decided that council tax was too high and needed reducing, so they asked council officers to do this.

Of course, council officers couldn’t reduce council tax. They looked at the services they were providing and ran them effectively and efficiently, they didn’t waste money. But they couldn’t take decisions on whether spending on the elderly was more important than spending on reducing teenage pregnancy, or whether investing in playgrounds should take priority over investing in roads – they needed a political steer on what services were nice to have, and which were the essential priorities to the political leadership.

And that is the sort of thinking we will all need to do in the coming months and years. How do we want our areas to develop and what is the best way of making sure that happens? How do we define what is nice to have and what is essential to maintain a healthy and happy society?

To me, that is the new politics. For the past thirteen years Labour has been reducing local government to little more than a delivery agency for their national policies. Now, with a new government, and new challenges, local councils are likely, once again, to free to be the innovators and deliverers who can make a real difference to their neighbourhoods.