Over at The Independent yesterday, the secretary of state for energy and climate change, Chris Huhne, argued that a half-hearted deal between the Lib Dems and Tories would have appeared fragile and short-term. Our economic problems, he argues, call for tough decisions and certainty. And the constituional changes the Lib Dems have negotiated will endure:
… we face a prolonged period when we will be relying on the financial markets to lend the Government the money to bridge the largest peacetime gap between taxes and spending in our history. A fiscal problem of this scale is not resolved overnight. Indeed, no fiscal problem of our magnitude has ever been resolved in less than four years, and sometimes much more. If we fail to maintain the momentum of improvement, the markets could lose confidence in progress at any time. The price in higher interest rates could destroy the recovery.
That is why the Lib Dem MPs concluded that there was no point in a half-hearted deal where we would undertake to vote for budgets and confidence motions, but not participate. It would have been seen by the markets as a low-trust arrangement heading for early breakdown, and in turn the parties would have dodged the tough decisions because they expected another election and feared voter retribution. Only a coalition can deliver certainty for the prolonged period we need. …
Our Lords and Commons parliamentary party approved this deal without a single vote against, precisely because it offers a vision of a better society towards which so many of us have striven for so long. The programme of constitutional change is the most important since 1911. We have an exciting route map to a fairer, greener and more liberal society. Our successors in the Liberal tradition will never understand if we fail today to rise to the challenge, for the first time in a generation, of putting our principles into power.
You can read Chris’s article in full here.