Tag Archives: coalition

The dance of coalition

Nick Clegg and David CameronSteve Richards, writing in the Independent, has a thoughtful analysis of the three main parties and their level of unity. He claims that the Liberal Democrats display “the greatest sense of unity and discipline” and yet they have the greatest level of internal differences. I like to think that is because we are a broad church that tolerates and even celebrates differences, because we do unite around the fundamental principles of fairness, liberty and equality.

But, according to Richards, those differences make it unlikely that the party will agree to another coalition with the Conservatives, hence his headline: “There will be no Con/Lib coalition after the next election”.

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Kirsty Williams writes… nothing to fear from parties working together

As we know, 2010 was the first time a coalition cabinet had been formed in Westminster since 1945. This obviously marked an historic occasion. However, coalition is something that is far less unusual in the Welsh political system and I believe experiences taken from Wales can be of benefit to the party as we approach the next General Election.

Between 2000-03 the Welsh Liberal Democrats were in a coalition government and our achievements during those three years were substantial. In fact, much to Labour’s annoyance, in 2002 we were able to claim that over a hundred Lib …

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Opinion: What if?

The Coalition has hurt us.  We can surely agree that now.  It has left us no clear public image, other than supporting the EU and electoral change, in our own favour.  Breaking up Coalition will be so very hard to do, whether now or later.  If we leave it until 2014-15, we will have no time to establish a credible separate identity.  Clegg, if still leading, will defend the Coalition’s record.  It is only a small step on from there to promoting Tory-led Coalition out to 2020.

“Centrist” (i.e. pro-Tory) Lib Dem loyalists usually dismiss strategic

Posted in Op-eds | 28 Comments

Nick Clegg says coalition “staunch opponents” will work together till 2015

Much attention has been given in the news to Nick Clegg’s and David Cameron’s remarks on the future of the Coalition. Both were keen to emphasise that the Government would stick together until 2015.  I’m never sure it’s wise to assert these things so strongly when there was never a realistic prospect of a split anyway. The attempts of some in the Conservative Party to deflect attention from their own torrid internal relations by spreading nonsense about a plot to unseat Nick Clegg, or suggesting his jacket is on a shoogly peg if the European elections don’t go well are …

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LibLink: Tim Bale – “The biggest effect of the Lib Dems holding their nerve has been to help the Conservatives lose theirs”

tim baleTim Bale is professor of politics at Queen Mary, University of London, an an historian of the Conservative party. And this week, to mark the third anniversary of the formation of the Coalition, he’s turned his attention to the Lib Dems.

The article begins by dissecting that ‘Jekyll and Hyde’ verb — compromise — to highlight the problems posed by the Coalition for both its parties: ‘Used actively, it’s a good thing – you want something; I want something different; we talk it over; we come to an arrangement; …

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Coalition review – fine words, but any parsnips buttered?

clegg cameron rose gardenDavid Cameron and Nick Clegg have just presented their mid-term coalition review. You can read the full document here. As a taster, here are the ending words of the foreword:

Today, at the half-way point in this Parliament, we are taking stock of the progress we have made in implementing the Coalition Agreement that we signed in May 2010. But we are also initiating a new set of reforms, building on those already under way, to secure

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Cameron and Clegg to renew vows

clegg-cameron-love– That, courtesy of the FT, is perhaps the most florid of a batch of headlines this morning concerning a “relaunch”, or at least a “resomething” of the coalition.

The FT article starts:

David Cameron and Nick Clegg will today alarm some in their own parties with a whole-hearted renewal of their coalition vows, in a midterm relaunch that includes a new

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2013 can be the year Lib Dems prove the cynics wrong, but we have to get smart

Nick Clegg after his conference speechOne of the most interesting results in Lib Dem Voice’s most recent poll of party members was the answer to the following question: Do you support or oppose the Lib Dems being in the Coalition Government with the Conservatives?

After two-and-a-half years of difficult negotiations with our Conservative partners, deep spending cuts, unpopular tax rises, hundreds of council seats lost and a national poll rating now consistently in the single figures, still only 19% of Lib Dem

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LibLink: Prateek Buch on Nick Clegg’s speech today

Double Clegg 2 - Some rights reserved by Liberal DemocratsOn Comment is Free, Social Liberal Forum director, Prateek Buch provides an interesting critique of Nick Clegg’s speech today:

At least Clegg recognises that Liberal Democrats have to stand up for what we truly believe in. The recent direction of travel on Leveson, drugs reform and snooping is welcome, and we await more robust promotion of party policy on things that really matter to most people – a fair, sustainable economy where living

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LibLink: Richard Reeves on stepping away from the Tories

David-Cameron-and-Nick-CleggOn Comments is Free, Richard Reeves argues that, in 2013, Nick Clegg needs to establish a more assertive identity and win voters over for bold, new reasons:

The coalition will be a play in two acts. Act one had the parties acting largely in tandem – reforming public services, reversing Labour’s

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Andrew Adonis: “I am much more negative about the idea of coalition now”. Is Labour pluralism dead?

A couple of days ago, I suggested Lib Dems needed to think about how we rescue the idea of coalition as an effective form of government. Right on cue, former Labour cabinet minister Lord (Andrew) Adonis has slated the concept, arguing in The Guardian that:

Giving huge power to a very small party that is very unclear about what it wants to achieve in politics – I’m trying to be diplomatic about the Lib Dems – isn’t, to my mind, the best way forward. The best way forward would be to have a majority Labour government.

There are at least …

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It’s not just this Government that’s unpopular: it’s the idea of Coalition. Here’s what Lib Dems need to do about that.

There are many arguments the Lib Dems are winning in government. But there is one very big debate we’re currently on the losing side of with the public: that coalition government is capable of working. And it’s not surprising that voters are unpersuaded given we Lib Dems look a whole lot less than convinced by the experience.

The known knowns of Coalition

Let’s get two pieces of mitigation out of the way:
1) Coalition government is always tougher on the junior party: we lack the democratic mandate and …

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Opinion: Hard-headed realism should guide our dealings with the Conservatives

I’m an unreserved coalition enthusiast.

The coalition means Lib Dems in government; something which, in turn, means the implementation of many Lib Dem policies, the likes of which I have campaigned and voted for over the years, believing said policies to be long overdue and beneficial for the country.

But, despite what our critics say, that doesn’t make me a Tory; and I have very little interest in seeing the Conservatives have an easy ride, in helping them implement their policies, or in keeping their members happy.

The embrace them closely strategy of the first coalition year now looks naive, and most Lib …

Posted in Op-eds | 107 Comments

Tim Farron MP writes… This week could have been very different

Last weekend was the fifth anniversary of the day that Gordon Brown changed his mind at the last minute and didn’t call the widely anticipated 2007 autumn General Election. Given the remainder of his tenure it is easy for many of us to forget that following his succession to No. 10 Downing St, Gordon Brown did received a popularity bounce. Brown was 10% ahead in the polls, David Cameron was floundering following a difficult period as opposition leader, and of course the banking collapse of 2008 had not yet happened.

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Opinion: Good news on affordable housing, but spare me the house builders’ crocodile tears – their share prices have doubled

Winning an extra £300m from the Treasury for affordable housing and tackling empty homes is good news by any standard (well done, Andrew Stunell, and thanks for all you did at DCLG). Moving forward on the £10 billion government guarantees for infrastructure spending is positive too. And if the Montague Review to encourage private renting is implemented, that’s proof patience can be rewarded…. I spent ten years on the London Assembly calling for both Labour and Conservative mayors to act. Back in June I had put housing at the heart of a four-point plan for a sustainable recovery. So it is great to see this issue come to the fore.

But forgive me for not believing the crocodile tears from developers about how they can’t afford to start work on ‘commercially unviable’ sites. The Times just revealed they’ve been quietly squirreling away land banks big enough for a quarter of a million homes. Not unviable, so much as slightly less massively profitable. Just look at their share prices. They’ve doubled over the last year even before the boost this announcement gave them (Taylor Wimpey up from 30p to 54p; Barratt up from 76p to 150p; Persimmon up from 425p to 700p). Yes, doubled. Not bumping along the bottom, like the rest of the economy.

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Opinion: Deregulate Sunday trading to go for growth

The Coalition needs to get over its obsession with small businesses – and deregulate Sunday trading
With the recent fragility of the Coalition, it’s easy to forget that the Lib Dems do agree with the Tories on some issues. If we didn’t, it would have been impossible to forge a workable government in the first place. Mounting instability over constitutional reform makes it all the more important that the two parties can work together where their philosophies do align. One of those areas is economic and regulatory policy. Despite some notable blind spots, the Conservatives do share our belief in the strength of the free market to provide long-run economic growth. While many regulations are necessary and right, the Coalition should be able to work together in order to eliminate arbitrary and damaging rules that distort rather than level the economic playing field.

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Paul Tyler writes… Conservative crisis, Labour leaderless

It’s a good job I’m not a betting man, having said here in July “my bets are strongly against the Government giving up at this point”.  But now we know:  David Cameron’s authority within the Conservative Party is so weak that he cannot even persuade his MPs to support an agreed manifesto commitment, and a Bill unanimously supported by his Cabinet.  Cameron and Osborne voted for the 80% elected component as long ago as 2003, yet this summer their right-wing backbenchers simply would not accept elections at all.

Unsurprisingly, concern for future of their own constituencies – as boundary changes …

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Opinion: We are Liberal cherries in a very Conservative cake

Lords Reform might have only gone missing, but we should prepare for the idea that we might find a body.

We should first realise that we haven’t yet made a single, big achievement in this government. That is not to say that I do not think that the Pupil Premium is a bad thing – I am a passionate advocate. The same with the £10K tax threshold; I even believe we could move forward on that. These are good achievements, but not legacies.

Posted in Op-eds | 29 Comments

The Independent View: Making coalition government work – lessons for the future

In 2011 the Constitution Unit spent one year examining how the Conservative-Liberal Democrat Coalition works. We interviewed almost 150 people about the Coalition: individuals from both parties—both in and outside Parliament—as well as civil servants, journalists, and interest groups. We have just published the result of our study in a book: The Politics of Coalition: How the Conservative-Liberal Democrat Coalition Works

We are particularly grateful to all those Lib Dems who were so generous in giving their time to be interviewed, and for Mark Pack’s very kind review of our book. And in the same spirit, we offer some thoughts on lessons for the future. Professor John Curtice argues that the conditions that led to a hung parliament in 2010 remain; and even if the boundary reforms goes through, the possibility of a hung parliament is still quite high. Even if, as some suggest, the Liberal Democrats will lose a large number of seats in 2015, they may still be in a position to determine the shape of a new government. So what lessons are there to be learned from the last two years of the Coalition, and how might the Lib Dems approach a hung parliament in 2015?

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Opinion: Why aren’t Liberal Democrats complaining loudly about draconian new family immigration rules?

It’s not often that I find myself on the same side of an argument as Sayeeda Warsi. It’s even less often that I find myself on the same side when it comes to marriage equality.

I am thankful, however, that the Baroness was in Cabinet to lead the charge – along with Liberal Democrats – against the Home Secretary’s outrageous plans to impose a draconian income threshold (of up to £40,000) on British citizens who wish to bring their spouses to live with them in this country. The Coalition’s harsh immigration cap is hard enough for a Liberal to stomach without …

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LibLink: David Laws – I still believe the Coalition can last the course

Writing in the Telegraph, David Laws has been giving his thoughts on how Cameron and Clegg can breathe new life into the coalition, not by a new Agreement as he says the one we have is the most effective and bold programme of any peacetime government in the last 100 years. He adds that it’s vital that the Coalition does continue because the consequences of failure for the country would be unpalatable for the country.

Alongside the over-riding priority of the economy and stimulating economic growth, he gives an outline of what the Coalition could achieve over the next two and …

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The Politics of Coalition: How the Conservative-Liberal Democrat Government Works

Robert Hazell and Ben Yong’s work, The Politics of Coalition: How the Conservative-Liberal Democrat Government Works, is a very readable volume, written mostly in the style of an introductory politics textbook and based on extensive interviews with the participants, including at very senior levels.

The book is well done, readable, comprehensive and has a few gems lurking in the revelations from all the interviews, such as the limited involvement of Andrew Lansley and Paul Burstow in drafting the health section of the Coalition Agreement.

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Why the Lib Dems cannot end the Coalition. And what we should do to try and rescue it.

How do we revitalise the Coalition? I realise that for many Lib Dems that’s the very last question on your minds. After a week in which Tory rebel MPs forced the Government to delay a key plank of the Coalition Agreement — House of Lords reform — rather more Lib Dems, and not just the ‘usual suspects’, are turning to the question: how quickly can we be shot of the Tories?

After all, didn’t enough of our MPs walk the plank on the Coalition’s behalf on tuition fees, a policy directly counter to the Lib Dem manifesto? Meanwhile David Cameron cannot even persuade his party to back a reform that’s featured in the last three Tory manifestos. So what’s the purpose of the Coalition any more?

I get the emotional pull of the argument… but it doesn’t persuade me.

Coalition matters more to the Lib Dems than the Tories

The simple truth is that it’s more important for the Lib Dems to try and make this coalition work than it is for the Tories.

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Lib Link: How does David Cameron charm the Liberal Democrats?

Over at his day job at MHP Communications, Mark Pack turns his thoughts to how David Cameron should react to , stating that the Prime Minister has ‘two tricky problems to mull over’.

The first, and most talked about, is how to get his party to back some measure of Lords reform else risk seeing Liberal Democrats outside ministerial ranks (and even some inside) see it as open season on future legislation as it goes through Parliament. The sort of effective and tight whipping operations that saw Liberal Democrats in both Houses votes for a range of measures they did

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Blast from the past: Paddy Ashdown on principled opposition

As I’ve watched the shameful shenanigans in the House of Commons this week over Lords reform, one event from our not so recent past kept popping into my head. Those of us of a certain age can remember the eventful passage of the Maastricht Bill through Parliament in 1992/93.  Even though they agreed with the principles of the Maastricht Treaty, Labour teamed up with Tory Eurosceptics to try to undermine the Government.

The Liberal Democrats, enthusiastic about closer European partnership, played no such games. I would be lying if I said I had taken this entirely calmly at the time. After …

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LibLink: Norman Lamb on the coalition – ‘It’s our national duty’

The new edition of House magazine features an extended interview with Norman Lamb, written by Sam Macrory.

Norman features on the cover, with the strapline “The business minister on why ‘flunking’ the coalition is not an option”.

The interview took place on election day, so Norman had thoughts for those facing tough polling fights, while defending the coaltion:

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Opinion: A bad election result – what now ?

The Liberal Democrats took another slap round the chops from the electorate on the May 3rd local elections. Yes, there were a few bright spots, especially those ably pointed out by Jeremy Browne MP, but the overall picture was still grim.

Of course it was not unexpected, and neither has the leadership’s response been – hold the course, reiterate what we have achieved and will achieve, compare our policy successes with those of the Conservatives, and emphasise that it was Labour who got us into the financial mess we are in. And so on. All good stuff, and well executed. …

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And I would have succeeded if it hadn’t been for these pesky Lib Dems – Cameron

I read the Daily Mail every day. It’s worth it because in amongst the inaccurate, scaremongering bile, there’s quite often a wee gem which shows off the Liberal Democrat influence in the Coalition.

Today, it carries an interview with David Cameron in which he tells how these pesky Liberal Democrats have stopped him doing things like getting rid of human rights legislation, eroding people’s employment rights and stopping him introducing a tax break for married couples.

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LibLink: David Laws “My second half Coalition agenda”

Writing in today’s Financial Times, David Laws sets out his key priorities for the Coalition, discussing what needs to happen in the economy to ensure growth is achieved alongside deficit reduction. He writes about how crucial it is for the Government to get it right on the economy.

The coalition still has the potential to be one of the great reforming governments of the postwar era. The changes we are making in education, welfare and pensions are radical and right. The country will judge us over our full term and not on the basis of a turbulent few weeks of “here

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Opinion: 1984 and all that

If you wanted to pick an issue guaranteed to unite the whole party – protecting our civil liberties has to be it. So the last 48 hours have been a frenzy of claim, counterclaim, the candyflossesque spin of internal briefings and Lib Dems across the blogo/twitto/facebooko/forumosphere reaching dangerously apoplectic levels of disquiet.

Mark Pack, in his inimitable unflappable style offered an informative briefing via LDV – taking the optimistic view, reassuring us that “what the Home Office proposes is not the same as what Parliament will legislate. No matter how flawed the initial proposal put to Parliament by Theresa May are, they put the RIPA rules on the table – giving the opportunity to get them changed to meet what a liberal approach should be – as little intrusion as possible, only for the most serious of offences and with rigorous, independently verified safeguards”.

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