Tag Archives: post election negotiations

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

Opinion: Opportunities for electoral reform in a hung parliament

As Simon Kelner says in today’s i newspaper, electoral reform has “played absolutely zero part in this election campaign”, though it “goes to the very essence of our democracy”.

In what has been described as a lottery election, we need to be prepared for any of the diverse opportunities for electoral reform that may open up.  One thing that does seem almost certain is that the result itself will provide strong evidence of the need for change, with hugely varying seat/vote ratios.  Current polls suggest the following: Conservatives and Labour each with only a third of the votes but over 40% of seats; Liberal Democrats with 4% of seats from 8% of the votes while the SNP have the reverse; and UKIP and the Greens with a combined vote of 15-20%, yet less than 1% of seats between them.

What type of negotiations might there be?  A key distinction is between any possible long term agreement – that is, for the duration of the parliament – such as a formal coalition, and a short term agreement that allows a minority government to take office, winning the vote on a Queen’s Speech and any ensuing vote of confidence.

For any formal agreement, STV for local government in England and Wales should be a Liberal Democrat red line.  With the Conservatives, we could agree on further devolved powers for Scotland and Wales, but their other constitutional manifesto aims, “English Votes for English Laws” and “reduce and equalise constituencies”, are much more problematic because we have very different ideas on both issues.  A formal agreement on constitutional reform with Labour should be easier: their constitutional manifesto aims are all ones we can agree with: more devolved powers, a constitutional convention, replacing the House of Lords with an elected senate, and votes for 16 and 17-year olds.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged | 65 Comments
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