Tag Archives: coalition

Tainted love?

I’ve seen people talking about the need for a leader who will be “untainted” by Coalition.

I couldn’t disagree more.

We have a strong story to tell, and the Coalition is a crucial part of it. We will never thrive by being the party of protest and pure tactical voting. As Mark Pack and others have said, we need to create a core vote of our own. The Coalition makes this more plausible.

Despite being naturally liberal, I didn’t support the Lib Dems before the Coalition because I perceived them as a protest party.  I thought they were opportunists, tactical vote recipients, defined by who they were not rather than who they were.  Then the 2010 General Election happened, and the Lib Dems went into Coalition and started making hard choices. They started governing. Either I had been completely wrong about the Lib Dems, or they had risen to the situation amazingly. Or quite possibly, it was a bit of both.  They proved  beyond a shadow of a doubt  that they were a true and plausible political party of Government with their own agenda and ethos, which I very much liked.

The Lib Dems achieved so much in Coalition, outpunching their weight by a huge amount. The rise in the income tax threshold made a massive difference for the just-about-managing (note how the Tories have tried to take the credit for this). The Quad – with Nick Clegg and Danny Alexander – adjusted the austerity regime to boost growth and protect the poorest and most vulnerable. Take a look at the distributional analyses of tax and benefit changes under the Coalition and compare them to those under the Tory majority rule since – it’s a horrifying change.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged | 92 Comments

Achievements of the LibDems in coalition 2010-2015

The Lib Dem Manifesto of 2017 gives canvassers plenty to promise on the doorstep, but past achievements can be more convincing. Yet who among canvassers can instantly name three achievements attributable to the Liberal Democrats, against Conservative inclinations, in the Coalition Government of 2010-2015?

Here is a short list, which will no doubt benefit from correction or expansion. A full list can be found in an Appendix to David Law’s book Coalition.

  • The allocation of 0.7% of GDP to International Development, both in practice and as law
  • The raising of the Income Tax personal allowance from £6475 to £10,600
  • Steve Webb delivered the “triple lock” on the State Pension
  • Nick Clegg saw through the pupil premium of (eventually) £1320 per primary school child and £935 for secondary children to reduce the attainment gap in England and Wales
  • A £2.5 billion banking levy
  • Free school meals for infant-school children and in the first three years in primary school in England
  • Vince Cable vetoed a proposed “fire-at-will” employment law
  • Stopping welfare cuts and ensuring benefits kept up with inflation
  • Same sex marriage legislation
  • 15 hours free child care for disadvantaged children
  • Prohibition of the export of chemicals to where it is known they may be used to carry out the death penalty
  • Strong and stable government (true!)
  • 5p charge on plastic bags.
Posted in Op-eds | 58 Comments

+++Tim Farron’s pledge to voters: Lib Dems won’t make coalition deals

The Observer reports:

The Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron has ruled out any form of coalition with the Tories or Labour after the general election as he sets out a bold ambition to attract enough Remain voters to form the main opposition party in parliament.

In a dramatic shift of strategy for a party that entered coalition with the Conservatives in 2010 in the “national interest”, Farron said in an interview with the Observer that there will be “no deal, no deal with anybody” under any circumstances.

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Coalition: Yes or no?

Liberal Democrats quite like to be in government. We like to think that we can make a difference. So when the larger parties find themselves without an overall majority, we – as individuals – are courted.

This article deals with two aspects of the decision to go into coalition – political legitimacy and our party’s mandate to govern.

Liberal Democrats do not support the current unequal voting system. Put simply, we want every vote to be valued equally. We want the number of elected representatives to correspond to the number of people who voted for each party. So, if a party overall gets 10% of the vote, we believe that they should have 10% of the representatives.

When this doesn’t happen – which is nearly all of the time – the main question to ask is whether we make our decisions based on the numbers of representatives, or based on our vote share. For example, if we have 10% of the vote but only 2% of the representatives, do we say our mandate reflects our 10% or our 2%?

Posted in Op-eds | 21 Comments

Don’t let the Tories airbrush us out of history

The Conservatives’ Twitter feed has annoyed me even more than usual today.

It’s no different. They are always taking credit for things that Lib Dem ministers drove forward in Government, but we shouldn’t let them away with it.

Remember when David Cameron told Nick Clegg in the 2010 leaders’ debate that the rise in the tax threshold was unaffordable? Now they are proudly claiming credit for it as if it was there idea when everyone knows it wasn’t.

They also highlight the rise in the State Pension. Ah yes, but who was responsible for the triple lock, ensuring that the pension rose by earnings, 2.5% or inflation whichever was the biggest? Step forward Steve Webb, former Lib Dem Pensions Minister.

And they are also boasting about the Pupil Premium, an idea implemented and boosted by education ministers Sarah Teather and David Laws.

It’s funny that they’re not boasting about that other Lib Dem achievement, the massive investment in renewables. Ah, that will be because they’ve dismantled that one.

Posted in News | Also tagged | 18 Comments

In conversation with David Laws

The former Liberal Democrat MP and government minister discusses his new book about the Conservative-Lib Dem coalition government, says what he would do differently in hindsight, and looks into his crystal ball to see what the future holds for the party…

Your new book about the Coalition has certainly made a few waves following its Sunday newspaper serialisation – the right kind of waves?

I think inevitably there is a temptation in the press to shed light on things which are currently topical, such as Tory divisions on the referendum. But the primary reason I wrote the book was to give an accurate, historic account of the Coalition and a proper explanation of our part in it – and if the serialisation results in more people reading the book, so much the better.

It sounds like you’re, by and large, proud of what the Lib Dems achieved in government?

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , and | 22 Comments

A surprising gap in David Laws’ knowledge

Last night, Biteback Publishing held a party to celebrate the launch of David Laws’ book, Coalition.

The Times (£) has an amusing anecdote from the event:

Posted in News | Also tagged , and | 15 Comments

David Laws on Marr: I want to expose how NHS chief was leant on to encourage debate on NHS funding

It’s the second week of David Laws’ coalition revelations serialised in the Mail on Sunday. This week we have him telling us that:

To take them in turn:

You have to wonder why we bought and publicised the £8bn figure, too. It’s all very well for David Laws to tell Andrew Marr today that Norman Lamb was always sceptical about it, but I seem to recalls making a massive thing about how we were the only party who was going to meet the £8bn request in full. If we knew that the figure was nonsense then, why on earth did we not say loudly and lay out the choices that the nation faced in a much more realistic way?

On Marr, David Laws emphasised how the Lib Dems helped IDS veto Treasury requests for further welfare cuts, confirming that Osborne saw it as a cash cow.There are problems with this analysis, though.  Danny Alexander seemed to be hand in glove with Osborne on a lot of this stuff, at one point calling people affected by the Bedroom Tax “bedroom blockers.” Also, a lot of the really awful ideas, from the rape clause to the capping at two children were IDS’s idea.

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Clegg says Tories are squandering our legacy. But it wasn’t tuition fees that lost it for us

clegg cameron rose garden

Nick Clegg has used his first major interview since stepping down as Leader of the Liberal Democrats to take a swipe at his former Coalition colleagues for ‘squandering’ their legacy. In today’s Independent he states:

The rhetoric at the beginning from David Cameron was good. I held my tongue. But I am afraid the very thin gruel the Prime Minister has announced, and the deeply regressive steps taken by his Chancellor, means it is insecure, hollow double-speak.

He has drawn up a long ‘charge sheet’ about the current Government: …

Posted in News | Also tagged | 45 Comments

Is aiming at Coalition shooting at the wrong goal?

 

I couldn’t go to Conference so listened to Tim Farron’s speech on i-player afterwards. What a great speech: full of idealism, commitment and determination. We’re so lucky to have Tim as leader.

But there was one thing that really worried me.  I had already seen reports in the news that morning that Tim was going to talk about getting back into Government again in 2020 – about how going into Coalition had been the right thing to do. Looking at the decimation of the Party and the loss of so many first-class MPs I am still not so sure about that, but leaving the past aside, is Coalition what the Lib Dems should be aiming for now, and more importantly saying what we are aiming for? I would generally say not.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged | 57 Comments

Which former Lib Dem Cabinet Minister disagreed more often with Danny Alexander than George Osborne?

The Journal of Liberal History is a serious academic publication. When it arrives on my doorstep, I know I have an enjoyable couple of hours with a cup of tea learning about interesting events and people in the history of the Liberal Party, SDP or Liberal Democrats.

The issue of the publication which will be on sale at Conference is no less worthy and serious, but my reaction to it was unusual. Within a few minutes, I was hyperventilating and my eyes were out on stalks at what I was reading. Seriously, they should have sold serialisation rights to the press.

You see, this issue covers the Coalition and its aftermath. Adrian Slade spent May and June persuading many  former ministers, including all of the Cabinet ministers bar Carmichael – and by all, that includes Chris Huhne – to give their take on how the Coalition had worked, or not, as the case may be. Some of their interviews are more predictable than others, but all are candid. Some are almost painfully defensive, others offer a wince-inducing verbal hiding. Who was the former Minister who said:

Posted in News | Also tagged | 23 Comments

LibLink: Tim Farron – After 100 days, the penny is well and truly dropping on how hard Lib Dems fought in government

On Huffington Post, Tim Farron writes:

We’re 100 days into a Tory government and, let’s be honest, they have been fairly clear on what they’re about. Unfortunately, for the majority of us across the UK – those of us who didn’t vote Tory – it doesn’t look pretty.

Posted in LibLink | Also tagged | 26 Comments

Opinion: Why I would be wary of another coalition with the Conservatives

As the speculation continues on the make-up of the next government, I have been thinking a lot about the prospect of another Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition.

We went into coalition in 2010 for three main reasons 1) because the country needed a strong, stable government to sort out the economy which was in crisis 2) to stop the Tories from doing nasty, right-wing things, and 3) to get our own great policies, such as pupil premium implemented.

So where are we in 2015? We do not have the same level of economic difficulty as we did in 2010. The deficit is halved, our GDP growth is the highest amongst developed countries and we have record employment. Whilst it’s true that we cannot take the economic recovery for granted, we are not in crisis.

As to being able to stop the Tories’ right wing agenda in 2015, I doubt that we will be able to do that as effectively. It is likely that any Conservative/Lib Dem/DUP coalition will have the smallest of majorities. This will give those ‘swivel-eyed’ right wing conservatives a lot of power. In this parliament, the Coalition had a decent majority and the more extreme Tories could be safely ignored – that won’t be the case this time. And just to get a flavour of some of the policies on offer in the Tory 2015 manifesto – 500 more free schools, removing JSA for 18-21 year olds, requiring 40% turnout for strike action, ending any subsidy for onshore wind,  lowering the benefit cap, capping skilled migration, scrapping the Human Rights Act and introducing the snoopers charter – nice!

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , and | 76 Comments

Nick Harvey: ‘If you think we are going to spend another five years being shafted (this time) by Labour, you’ve got another think coming’

The Liberal Democrat coalition negotiation team leave Cowley Street HQ for the fourth day of discussions with the Conservatives May 10th 2010.

Earlier this week we highlighted Nick Harvey MP’s report “Beyond the Rose Garden”. In it, he recommends a range of changes in arrangements for any future coalition governments.

In the wake of his report’s publication, Nick has now given an extensive interview with Huffington Post

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The Independent View: Analysing the common ground between Lib Dem and Labour policy positions

Today sees the release of a combined piece of work between the Fabian Society and CentreForum that details what the policy overlaps between the Lib Dems and the Labour Party are, according to the most up to date data. The report is entitled “Common Ground? An analysis of the Liberal Democrat and Labour programmes”, and can be read here. By extension, the paper sets out what the discussion might look like should the two parties find themselves negotiating a government after the general election in May. The report does not recommend such an arrangement; it only seeks to outline …

Posted in The Independent View | Also tagged , and | 20 Comments

Miss Trunchbull to play Nick Clegg

Well, I thought that was a good headline. So much better than “The actor who played Miss Trunchbull is to play Nick Clegg” or “Actor Bertie Carvel to play Nick Clegg”, both of which would have been less misleading.

Posted in Humour and News | Also tagged and | 2 Comments

Offering “heart and spine” – should we be mentioning the “c” word in the election campaign?

 

As an experiment, comments for this post will be moderated and confined to new and infrequent commenters on this site. “Infrequent” is defined as having posted less than five comments in the last month. We have 40 posts a week where our frequent commenters have more than enough space to express their views. This post is reserved for new and not-so-frequent commenters.

We carried Nick Clegg’s Monday press conference speech in full. It was a very well-written and compelling narrative.

He said that the 2015 election will be about:

Who is best placed to finish the (recovery) job and do so fairly?

Posted in News and Op-eds | Also tagged and | 23 Comments

Opinion: Is the centre ground disappearing from British politics?

Ballot boxIs it just me, or has something recently changed in British politics? In fact, this apparent move towards what some might see as extremism may also be a characteristic of the political scene in Europe and further afield, too. It is almost akin to the frenzy that seems to hit societies at the end of each century, but manifesting itself a decade and a half late.

What the opinion polls appear to show is that the centre ground, represented primarily by the Liberal Democrats, has lost ground in favour of a …

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged and | 96 Comments

David Cameron should make Nick Clegg end the Coalition, say Tory MPs

Nick Clegg and David CameronThat is the headline over at Huffington Post, and it certainly makes for fascinating reading. How about this:

Tory MP John Redwood said Cameron should deliberately antagonise his Liberal Democrat partners into leaving, and warned the prime minister that terminating the coalition early may not be ‘”wise” as he had “given his word” and “it’ll not look good if the leader of the main party was to end the coalition”.

“What should happen now is the Conservative majority in the government should start to press very strongly for two or three distinctively conservative policies, and if the Liberals really don’t like it, they could push to leave on the grounds that they wish to impede from the benches of opposition,” he said.

Posted in News | Also tagged and | 16 Comments

Opinion: Lib-Lab Pact

infographic2014The Lib Dem campaigning message is encapsulated in Stronger Economy, Fairer Society, with Conservative messaging focusing on ‘the long term plan for economic recovery’, and Labour’s focusing on the decline in living standards of the poor and the squeezed middle.

Nick Clegg’s response that, were Labour in the future to ask Libdems to form a coalition with them the first demand would be ‘Don’t break the bank’,  seeks to emphasise Lib Dem economic competence.

It should come as no surprise then that the voting public should surmise that coalition economic policy is just what we say it is – a joint Conservative and Liberal Democrat long-term plan for economic recovery with “not a cigarette paper between us”

Posted in Op-eds | 50 Comments

Opinion: Lessons from the Netherlands on Lib Dem strategy

Netherlands-4778 - Wooden GrondzeilerA few months after the UK Coalition Government formed in 2010, the Dutch Christian Democrats (CDA) formed a minority government with our sister party, the liberal VVD. To get a majority agreement, the VVD-CDA coalition made a confidence and supply agreement with right-wing Geert Wilders and his Freedom Party (PVV), which set out a number of policy concession to Wilders, e.g. on immigration. That was a decision with huge impact: the PVV was about as toxic as it could get for many CDA and VVD supporters. The fall-out …

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , and | 53 Comments

Opinion: What does the evidence tell us about our strategy should be?

evidence of organized lightAs a party committed to evidence-based policy, we should be asking what the evidence tells us about the questions of strategy and leadership we now face. The discussion is currently impressionistic and getting fixated on the past. We need instead to stick to the evidence and to what it suggests we should do in the future. There are many examples one could give about the leadership issue, but here is one about strategy.

Nick Clegg has explained the party’s strategy like this: “

We said in 2010 we were going

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged and | 56 Comments

Opinion: A change of leader will make no difference. A change of heart and pride just might.

RomseyAs a young, recently-selected Lib Dem candidate for next year’s general election and in a winnable marginal seat, I’m rather more interested in what my fellow voters think – over 70,000 of them in my area – than a small number of disaffected Party members looking for a scapegoat after recent election results.

Standing in an area which includes smart middle-class patches as well as tougher urban ones, I’ve spent the past few weeks meeting hundreds of constituents. The words ‘Nick Clegg’ have been mentioned about three times. Nobody I’ve met really seems to mind who the leader is. They DO mind that the Lib Dems are no longer clear enough about what we stand for and that we once appeared human but increasingly sound like political robots.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged | 36 Comments

Opinion: The messenger or the message?

nick_clegg_vince_cable_budget_2009_bCoalition government is very tough on the junior party.  No surprise there. The prize, in our case, was lots of our favourite policies implemented – something we haven’t achieved for 100 years. The downside is a massive amount of negative media coverage.

Your coalition allies hate you because they see you as imposing policies on them. The opposition see it as an open goal, a chance to squeeze you out of the next election.  It is a two party nut-cracker with the potential to crush us.  The voracious appetite of the press pack has a constant supply of stories.

Posted in Op-eds | 37 Comments

Now is not the time for a bitter and bloody leadership battle

Nick Clegg addresses Birmingham Liberal Democrats conference. Photo courtesy of the Liberal DemocratsOne of the most interesting (and logistically challenging – though that’s another story) conference fringe events I have had a hand in organising through my involvement with Liberal Reform was a panel of fellow liberals from across Europe talking about their experiences of being members of a coalition.

I wanted to hold such an event to counter the all too prevalent assumption that the problems facing the Liberal Democrats are somehow unique to us. Because they are most certainly not.

Where parties enter …

Posted in News | Also tagged , , and | 87 Comments

Opinion: In coalition, more than ever, our leadership must listen to party members

lib dem conf votingThe Maria Miller furore has recently highlighted how voters between elections are powerless to change their MP, once they’re ‘in’ that’s it – you have to wait another five years to give your judgement on how they’ve performed.

In our ‘always on’ modern culture this is unusual. People can cancel utility contracts or switch broadband suppliers within days if they’re unhappy with the level of service, or give instant feedback online or over the phone which is listened to and actioned.  Shouldn’t we be able to …

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged and | 18 Comments

The verdict of Philip Collins, chief speech writer for Tony Blair, on Nick Clegg: “the Deputy Prime Minister should be applauded by all liberal voters”

Nick Clegg Q&A 19Philip Collins uses his column in today’s Times to write something not often written on that paper’s pages (or anywhere else for that matter): praise for the Lib Dems in Coalition. Here’s the paywalled link, and here’s a glimpse behind the paywall of what he has to say:

It is therefore a serious defence of Nick Clegg and the Liberal Democrats to commend them for things that would have happened had they not been there. It is in the nature of things that have not happened that we

Posted in News | Also tagged , and | 99 Comments

FT: “For nearly four years, Britain has been served reasonably well by multi-party government”

On Tuesday, it was reported that David Cameron wanted to rule out the possibility of a second Lib-Con coalition in the event of another hung parliament. This tit was matched by an equivalent tat from the left, when Unite leader Len Mclusky urged Labour to do the same.

Today’s Financial Times leader attempts to inject a dose of reality into this anti-coalition arms race:

All this chest-beating has stirred Nick Clegg, the Lib Dem deputy prime minister, whose party can only govern with others, to denounce “tribal voices”. And he is right to do so. This should not

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Cameron to “rule out second Lib-Con coalition” claims Telegraph. It may be a bluff but that doesn’t mean he won’t be forced to do it.

Today’s Telegraph splashes on the claim that David Cameron is preparing to rule out the possibility of a second Coalition with the Lib Dems if the Tories are the largest single party but lack a majority:

The Prime Minister wants to make a commitment in the Conservative Party election manifesto not to sign a second power-sharing deal with a smaller party in the event of a hung parliament next May, it is understood. Instead, a Conservative party that won the most seats but lacked a Commons majority would attempt to rule as a minority government, a course that would almost

Posted in News | Also tagged , , and | 36 Comments

Another Coalition? 1-in-5 of the public likes the idea, but is divided between Lib-Lab and Lib-Con pact

Nick Clegg sparked a flurry of Coalition speculation this week, with his (relatively) warm words towards Labour on a BBC Radio 4 documentary this week. Everyone’s had their say – but what does the public think? YouGov has polled them to ask…

The first question asked which option folk would like to see after the next general election…

yougov coalition feb 2014

So a Labour majority government is the preference of most (31%), narrowly ahead of a Tory majority government (29%). A coalition government involving the Lib Dems would be favoured by …

Posted in Polls | Also tagged | 20 Comments
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