Author Archives: Nick T

Missing the civility of coalition

The perceptive-as-ever Rafael Behr makes a good, but subtle, point in his latest Guardian column. Many of the mistakes that the government is now making, Behr argues, are a function of the majority one-party rule that eluded David Cameron in his first term in No 10:

So how is that working out? Unshackled from coalition, Cameron and George Osborne are now at liberty to find extra billions of budget savings from the benefits bill. Except in so doing, they managed to provoke conscientious rebellion on the Tory benches over tax credits, and drive Iain Duncan Smith into self-certified compassionate exile from the cabinet.

Posted in News | Tagged | 28 Comments

Review: Coalition, by David Laws

Coalition: The Inside Story of the Conservative-Liberal Democrat Coalition Government (Biteback; £25)

David Laws CoalitionIf journalistic reportage is the first rough draft of history, then the politicians’ memoir has a good claim to be the second — at least as far as contemporary political history is concerned.

Few are better placed to give the inside account of the UK’s first national coalition in living memory than David Laws. Laws was at the heart of the coalition before it had even been conceived, as part of a small Lib Dem team preparing for a hung parliament, and was then one of four Liberal Democrats to make up the party’s negotiating team when possibility became a reality in May 2010. From thereon in he bore witness to every significant decision made over the next five years, even though two of those years were ostensibly spent on the backbenches.

Laws has two other advantages, too. The first is the intelligence and insight that has earned him respect across the Lib Dem party — even from those with whom he often disagrees — and beyond. The second is his proximity to Nick Clegg, who allowed Laws access to his papers from his time as deputy prime minister in the preparation of this book.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged and | 23 Comments

What Cameron and Osborne said about Vince Cable’s proposals on corporate transparency

Given this week’s coverage of the so-called Panama Papers — the cache of 11.5m confidential files from Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca — this week, it was interesting to come across this account in David Laws’s book, Coalition, from a meeting in 2013:

Posted in News | Tagged and | 26 Comments

LDVideo: “A new, more rational approach is desperately needed” – Norman Lamb introduces his cannabis bill

Norman Lamb yesterday introduced his ten minute rule bill calling for the legalisation of and implementation of a regulated market for cannabis. You can view the bill and follow its progress here. It will move to second reading on 22 April.

And here is Norman’s Commons speech from yesterday:

Posted in News | Tagged and | 10 Comments

David Laws’s ‘Coalition’ – the coverage

David Laws CoalitionDavid Laws’s account of his and our party’s time in government, Coalition, was published earlier this week by Biteback, having been serialised in the Mail on Sunday.

Keep an eye out for a review here on LDV soon, but in the meantime here’s a round-up of what others have been saying.

The BBC have put together this film featuring former Lib Dem advisers Polly Mackenzie and Phil Reilly, and David was on The Andrew Marr Show on Sunday.

Posted in News | Tagged and | 19 Comments

Can the long-term decline in government investment spending be reversed?

Investment spending vs social security spendingIf actual government investment spending bore any relation to the amount of time politicians spent talking about it, Britain would surely have one of the highest rates of government investment in the world. In fact, for all the talk there are few signs of a reversal in one half of the most notable trend in Britain’s public finances over the last half century: the decline of government investment.

I say one half because there is another part of the trend, and it is the flip side of the same coin: the general trend of increasing spending on social security.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged and | 25 Comments

Was Vince Cable proved right on austerity?

When the histories of the coalition government come to be written, those chapters focussing on the role of Vince Cable will be some of the most fascinating. Vince’s fierce intelligence combined with a (perhaps deliberate) flair for the enigmatic meant he was involved in some of the most interesting of the coalition’s key moments.

One area of particular significance is likely to be the analysis of his views on austerity. Throughout the coalition Vince was often portrayed in the media — and by some Liberal Democrats — as a brave warrior fighting an axe-wielding Tory-Lib-Dem cabal of ideological austerians. Yet this seems to me to be precisely wrong.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , , and | 20 Comments
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