LibLink: Shirley Williams – The new politics is pragmatic

Over at The Guardian’s Comment is Free website, Lib Dem peer Baroness Shirley Williams offers a realistic lament-cum-appraisal of the opportunities and risks facing the coalition government:

So now we embark on a new politics. The generation I belong to, steeped in ideology and partisan commitment, is passing away. My own vision was one of equality and social justice advanced by state action. The new politics is pragmatic, innovative, suspicious of state power, and holds to values rather than dogmas. … out of the intense negotiations, brilliantly conducted by Nick Clegg and his team, has come a shared commitment: a new great reform act. That commitment is not just to tougher expenses rules but to a national debate in a referendum on the electoral system, to fixed-term parliaments, to an elected House of Lords, and to a much more powerful role for backbenchers in the Commons. It will transform British democracy.

Not that she’s entirely won over to the Lib-Con deal, having openly preferred a Lib-Lab pact, reckoning that reforms of the financial system will be the first issue that strains the coalition. However, Shirley concludes with honest pragmatism:

Can we be certain that this new kind of politics will work? The realistic answer must be no. But the alternative was a message to the electorate that, whatever their instincts for co-operation, the politicians preferred the safe, long-established confrontation. We have an obligation to try to make it work.

You can read the article in full here.

You can also catch up with an interview the New Staesman conducted with Shirley here – including her verdict:

I don’t think there’s going to be a coalition. There might be an arrangement in which we would not vote down initial Tory Budget proposals, but Nick Clegg has been pretty resolute on Europe. When the Tories put a ring fence around that, I think they knocked out the pros­pect of a coalition.

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5 Comments

  • Per usual, Shirley Williams’ assessment is spot-on and enlightening. I hope that PM Cameron and Deputy PM Clegg see that Baroness Williams would make an ongoing substantial contribution to Government. It would be a shame not have her deep experience and intellect play a formal role in publuic policy decisionmaking….

  • There is an interesting (and positive) US perspective from the New York Times here : http://www.nytimes.com/2010/05/14/opinion/14brooks.html?ref=opinion.

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