The coalition agreement: equalities and Europe

Welcome to the ninth in a series of posts going through the full coalition agreement section by section. You can read the full coalition document here.

The equalities section continues a theme common throughout the coalition document: if this section was presented to Liberal Democrat conference as the party’s policy in this area, people would be generally pretty happy with it. It doesn’t include everything the party wants, but that is balanced out by it being a list of policies which the government is actually going to put into practice rather than being just a policy motion wish list. Added to that is that this is one area where a Liberal Democrat minister – Lynne Featherstone – is in charge.

Her boss in ministerial terms is the Home Secretary, Theresa May, who has a rather patchy voting record on some equalities issues. Against that, she has said since the election that she has changed her mind on gay adoption and she was one of the first senior Conservatives to speak out about the party’s need to change its record of being seen as, in her words, “the nasty party”.

Much depends on the detail here as the document talks of promoting equal pay, ending discrimination in the workplace, extending flexible working and so on. All good aims that need to be matched by meaningful action over the next few years.

In some ways the coalition could actually be a benefit here as it will help protect the party against the instinct sometimes to use legislation as a matter of first resort; instead, other more imaginative and less bureaucratic methods will usually have to be the means of first and second resort.

Turning to Europe this is an area where by instinct Liberal Democrats are generally very uneasy about the Conservative Party’s approach. There are some reassuring words – “we will ensure that the British government is a positive participant in the European Union” – along with some good commitments, notably to press for the European Parliament to have only one home and to support further enlargement of the EU.

There are also some very clear Conservative red lines – no more transfer of powers to the EU during this Parliament, a referendum guaranteed for any future treaty changes which transfer power, a consideration of the case for a UK Sovereignty Bill “to make it clear that ultimate authority remains with Parliament” and no moves to join the euro.

Finally, there is an open question over how the promise to “approach forthcoming legislation in the area of criminal justice on a case-by-case basis” will turn out. Having a far less euro-sceptic European minister than we might have had is a promising sign for this and other matters.

Read more by or more about , or .
This entry was posted in Europe / International and News.


  • Not a peep about Schengen or any sign of the British people actually getting to enjoy, unhindered, the freedom of movement which is one of the most important and positive things about the European Union.

  • @Chris

    I know, big shame about that. I really would want the UK to join Schengen but it just doesn’t seem to be on the political radar because of immigration hysteria. Which is silly, as if the Swiss are content to join it then I’m sure that it’s not exactly leaky…

Post a Comment

Lib Dem Voice welcomes comments from everyone but we ask you to be polite, to be on topic and to be who you say you are. You can read our comments policy in full here. Please respect it and all readers of the site.

If you are a member of the party, you can have the Lib Dem Logo appear next to your comments to show this. You must be registered for our forum and can then login on this public site with the same username and password.

To have your photo next to your comment please signup your email address with Gravatar.

Your email is never published. Required fields are marked *

Please complete the name of this site, Liberal Democrat ...?


Recent Comments

  • Trevor Andrews
    Now that is a good response to the situation. Quantified, specific ideas on how to solve an issue. So often we criticise and say “something needs to be done...
  • Michael BG
    Joe Bourke, Pavlina Tcherneva sets out her vision of what a job guarantee scheme would be like, but I also talk of a job guarantee and a training guarantee. ...
  • Joe Bourke
    When we are talking about Keynesian economics it is important to remember the era that Keynes was writing in . This is why the analysis is sometimes referred to...
  • Joe Bourke
    Peter Martin, Dr Hunt's experience and credentials as an Internationally recognized monetary economist speaks for itself. He has a long record over many yea...
  • Andrew Southgate
    Fiona:Don't worry- if there was a 10% swing to Labour in the next electon- as there was last night in Old Bexley and Sidcup -then Keir Starmer would be in Numbe...