Tag Archives: coalition government

The pointless question is….

No not the quiz programme.  I am asking about the Liberal Democrats – a minor, centrist political party in the United Kingdom.  A Party that for 86 years has espoused a fairer and more representative voting system but for some inexplicable reason in 2017 it lost all enthusiasm for coalition government.

Our current leader said during the last election campaign “I would be astonished if he (Tim Farron) countenanced any kind of coalition with Labour or the Conservatives.”  So here is the very big SO – why bother voting for us, after all there was no chance that we would be forming a Government.  If we weren’t going to countenance a coalition with either of the two main parties how were we going to bring our influence to bear in securing a second referendum, for instance.

This was a denial of our long standing, honourable and rational argument for a fairer voting system that more reflects the diverse views of the electorate.  An argument first made by the Liberal Party in their 1931 General Election manifesto.

The conditions of the present Election are one more proof of the imperative need of a reform in the electoral system if the real wishes of the voters are to be truly expressed at the polls.

The purpose being that

Posted in Op-eds | 30 Comments

How should we approach future coalitions?

If we do decide to take part in future Coalitions, one thing that does need to be resolved is how to approach them.  Make no bones about it – we were nearly annihilated.  Play it like that again, and we could be doomed to oblivion.  Yet if we choose never to go into Government again, we’re doomed to impotence.  Scylla and Charybdis had nothing on this.

Last time the voters viewed us as having “got into bed with the Conservatives” rather than partners in something different.  The Rose Garden set the image: a love-in rather than a business partnership. One with us seen as the weak partner: dominated rather than dominant.  This might elicit sympathy, but voters won’t flock to who they see as the victim.  They seek out strength in their leaders.  Consider how Labour portrayed Nick Clegg (unfairly) in “The Incredible Shrinking Man” in 2014’s European Elections.

We’ve had analyses on what went wrong.  Nick Harvey’s “After the Rose Garden” has detailed prescriptions and is well worth a read.  George Kendall posted ideas in the direction I was thinking, and Bill le Breton highlighted that a workable and successful approach already exists for hung Councils, hung Parliaments and hung Assemblies in “Life in the Balance”, by ALDC.

Things that come out again and again include making the transactional nature clear, exposing linkages with wins, losses and trade-offs.  Keeping your distance (an arrangement, not a marriage) makes it harder to portray you as weak and dominated.  

Posted in Op-eds | 27 Comments

Former BBC Director General: Liberal Democrats secured better settlement for BBC

Former BBC Director General Mark Thompson has told how the Liberal Democrats in coalition government secured a “different and better” settlement for the BBC. Now that the Conservatives are unmoderated, things are not so good for what many feel is the highest quality public service broadcaster in the world.

The Guardian reports:

Giving his his first interview about the BBC since he left in 2012, after eight years at the helm, Thompson said the broadcaster was having to pay for government policy. “It’s welfare … It’s totally inappropriate to use BBC to support social transfer in this country.”

When George Osborne tried to impose the same cost on the BBC during negotiations in 2010, Thompson started writing his resignation letter, along with several BBC Trustees. This July the current director general, Tony Hall, agreed to shoulder the burden in return for relief from other costs.

“In 2015 the political circumstances are very different and it is much tougher for the BBC. In 2010 it was the coalition government and the Liberal Democrats … played a very big part in securing a different and better settlement. That recourse has not been available to the BBC this year.”

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Steve Webb talks about how a pension age “bad decision” was resolved

We’re hearing quite a lot about the ins and outs of the coalition government these days. Yesterday it was Vince talking about his relationship with Osborne or lack of it. Today, Steve Webb has been speaking to the Institute of Government about his experience as Pensions Minister.

Widely regarded as one of the most successful coalition ministers, Steve Webb reformed the Pensions system, making sure everyone has access to a workplace pension, introducing the triple lock to stop the paltry increases of Labour years and enabling people to access their pension fund early if they need to.

He specifically referred to a situation early on when ministers and made a decision about raising the pension age and had to later change their minds when it became clear how badly some women were going to be affected.

Posted in News | Also tagged and | 5 Comments

Vince Cable on “decaying” relationship with “bloody-minded” Osborne in government

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The Lib Dem minister and the carefully annotated 500-page document that was shredded by mistake

It’s Friday, so it must be time to read Civil Service World, which sounds like one of those publications they feature at the end of “Have I got news for you?”. (Baroness) Lindsay Northover tells the magazine about her experiences of working with civil servants, while serving as a whip in the coalition government. Lindsay is very complimentary, in the main, about civil servants. She tells of one of the challenges of coalition government:

Posted in News | Also tagged and | 3 Comments

Clegg: Lib Dems bring conscience and stability to a Coalition

As the Lib Dem manifesto is launched, with a headline of giving opportunity to kids, which is much more inspiring than the Tory extend right to buy in middle of housing crisis caused by right to buy and Labour waffle on deficit, Nick Clegg has been talking to the Guardian’s Patrick Wintour. His theme is that we know that the election is not going to give anyone an overall majority, and asks who people want to be walking into Downing Street with Cameron or Miliband.

the looming question in the next phase of this campaign is whether there is to be a coalition of grievance, or of conscience. The last thing the British economy needs is the instability and factionalism that those coalitions of grievance of right and left represents

He talks about UKIP and the SNP offering the “politics of grievance”. Though he uses the same theme of Labour being forced to dance to Alex Salmond’s tune, he stops short of the ridiculous things being said by the Tories on that. He also makes a very important part about the failures of the Labour Party:

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Jeremy Browne isn’t going quietly…

Jeremy Browne has used an interview with the Independent to continue his love-in with Nick Clegg and the Liberal Democrats. The headline says he called Nick Clegg “insipid” but he didn’t use that word directly about the leader. However, he did say something that will probably find some sympathy across the whole party. I’ve often said that we need to be passionate about who we are and not define ourselves by who we are not so that we’re just pushing ourselves as moderating influence on the other parties. I don’t like it when a speech is memorable for its mention of which body parts we share out. I do like it when we say what we are about.

Browne makes a similar point:

We are defining liberalism as the precise mid‑point between conservatism and socialism. Whatever liberalism is, it is not defined by where the other parties choose to pitch themselves or by measuring the distance between them and splitting it in half.

All we offer is a desire to water down their strong views. We offer an insipid moderation. Whichever party is the biggest one, we will stop them implementing a large number of their ideas. It is entirely negative. It is a deeply conservative position. We have become the most small-‘c’ conservative party.

Where I part company with Browne is his assertion is that this makes us more conservative than the two parties who have resolutely junked political reform whether it be electoral, party funding or to the House of Lords, throughout this Parliament. On devolution, it’s our party which has driven more powers for Scotland and Wales. You don’t find a conservative party creating opportunities for disadvantaged kids in school or transforming the way we deal with mental health.

Posted in News | Also tagged , , and | 41 Comments

A bit of a howler in the Tories’ press lines…

Sky News have managed to get hold of a Tory briefing document which gives its MPs and media spokespeople the messages they want to emerge from their Conference. It was drawn up in the wake of the Reckless defection and Newmark resignation. Things drawn up in haste can often cause more problems than they resolve and this is no exception. Take, for example, the bit where they say that they are not stating red lines in coalition negotiations before, er, stating one:

Q. Is policy X a red line for future coalition negotiations?

A. We’re not going to answer hypothetical questions about red lines for coalition negotiations. Our aim is to win an outright majority at the next election so we secure a better future for Britain and that’s what we’re working towards.

Q. But what about your Europe referendum? You’ve said that’s a red line?

A. As our commitment to have a referendum would have to be fulfilled by a specific date after the next election, we think it is right in this one instance to confirm it’s a red line.

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LibLink: Sam Ghibaldan: Clegg needs to be assertive

Clegg on OsbourneI’m not going to lie, I bet a lot of you are thinking Sam who? Chances are if you live in Scotland, you’ll be less curious because you will know that he was a Senior Special Adviser to Scottish Liberal Democrat Deputy First Ministers Jim Wallace and Nicol Stephen. As such, his perspective on who the Liberal Democrats should proceed in the run up to the General Election is highly relevant. In a recent Scotsman column, he said that Nick Clegg needs to get out there and shout about our core beliefs.

Some of the headlines faced by Nick Clegg were also seen in Scotland:

Posted in LibLink | Also tagged , , , and | 28 Comments

Clegg: Tribal voices should not deprive the UK of stable government

Today’s Guardian reports Nick Clegg’s comments at his monthly press conference on reported moves in both Conservative and Labour parties to rule out a second coalition after 2015.

He said:

Clearly, there is a sort of McCluskey tendency in both the Labour and Conservative parties.

I think what you are seeing, in a sense, is the last gasp of the assumption from the two bigger parties that somehow they have got a right to run things.

We should let the British people have their say rather than people constantly assuming that they can decide, rather than the British people, about how this country

Posted in News | Also tagged | 12 Comments

Farron: Tories are “nimby” over garden cities

From today’s Telegraph:

A secret Whitehall report recommending that two new cities are built in southern England to combat the housing shortage is being suppressed by David Cameron, The Telegraph can disclose.

The document was drawn up after the Prime Minister gave a speech supporting the idea nearly two years ago. It was described this week by Nick Clegg, his deputy, as a “prospectus” for future developments.

Posted in News | Also tagged , , and | 16 Comments

Developing Liberal Democrat policy is none of the Tories’ business, Cheryl Gillan

According to the BBC, former Secretary of State for Wales Cheryl Gillan, not known for being a government conformist herself, has been complaining about Nick Clegg to a panel of members of the House of Lords about the realities of coalition government. The report said:

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg has been accused of springing policy announcements on cabinet colleagues without warning.

Conservative former Welsh Secretary Cheryl Gillan said such tactics were “difficult to deal with” and threatened the smooth running of government.

She said any future coalition agreement should include a “no surprises” clause.

She didn’t give any …

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Brian Paddick writes… A seat in the House of Lords

When Nick called me to ask if I would be a Peer, he said, amongst other things, that it was time I had my own political platform. So that got me thinking about what my political platform might look like. Here are some initial thoughts.

I know we are in Coalition with them but I can find few redeeming features in Tory economics. Of course work should pay more than benefits but have benefits really have reduced to the level where families have to resort to food banks? Are those with disabilities having to give up independent living and are families …

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , and | 7 Comments

Jeremy Browne MP writes… Proud of our record in Government

The fundamental question for Liberal Democrats gathering for conference is this: are we proud of our Government or ashamed of it?

I think we should be proud.

The Coalition Government came together in 2010 when Britain was in deep trouble. We had been hit by an economic shockwave. The last Government was borrowing a ruinous £450 million extra every single day.

We also faced serious problems which held our people back and threatened our future prosperity. Entrenched inter-generational poverty and welfare dependency needed to be tackled head-on. School standards had fallen behind our international competitors, wasting the talent of our young people and …

Posted in Conference and Op-eds | Also tagged | 21 Comments

Cameron plans second coalition, or does he?

The Daily Telegraph is reporting today that David Cameron is planning for a second coalition with the Liberal Democrats.

The Prime Minister has held private talks with Cabinet ministers over new Conservative Party rules which would make it easier to strike another deal.

This is all very sensible. In the absolute monarchy mitigated by occasional regicide that is the Conservative Party, tighter rules to clamp down on the backbench naysayers to a coalition would be very prudent, just in case.

Under the plans, backbench Tories would be consulted on the new power-sharing agreement with the final text being put to

Posted in News | Also tagged | 29 Comments

Nick Clegg: in politics you’ve got to get your hands dirty

Jo Swinson MP has today emailed party members to draw their attention to an interview Nick Clegg gave to The Times over the weekend. I’m not sure that many Liberal Democrat Voice readers will have a subscription to the heart of the Murdoch Empire, but, never fear, Liberal Democrat Voice will do its best to give you the general jist.

Asked about his decision to go into Government with the Tories, Nick was clear that he was in the business of getting things done:

I marvel at some people who think it’s better to have completely clean but entirely useless hands. What’s

Posted in News | Also tagged , and | 6 Comments
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