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On Liberal coalition narratives

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So the Lib-Dems have not only put a Conservative government into office, they’ve gone into coalition. Clegg is to be Deputy Prime Minister and Cable may end up as Chief Secretary to the Treasury. What’s evident is how all the holier-than-thou Lib-Dems are getting to sleep at night, however: blaming Labour for the whole thing.

Now, don’t get me wrong, senior Labour MPs were quite vehemently opposed to talks of a coalition between the Lib-Dems and Labour. I hoped something might be worked out, and look forward to finding out in future memoirs what was offered and what was unacceptable, but that’s politics. What the Lib-Dems didn’t have to do was accept a coalition.

It could have been a Conservative minority government – which, incidentally, would not have been able to inscribe marriage in the tax system. Whereas now, the Lib-Dems have apparently pledged to abstain on such a vote. Likewise, private members bills could have pushed through the Lib-Dem mansion tax, which they’ve now dropped.

No, evidently the actuality of power was much too attractive for principle to hold out. Not that I ever believed the Lib-Dems to have much of that. It’s only on the strength of people like Evan Harris – now gone – that I’ve believed the Lib-Dems to have any left-wing credentials at all. But Orange Book will out and all that.

What’s surprising is that the Lib-Dem leadership abandoned proportional representation so fast. That must have been quite a shock to the army of semi-professional politicos who have been campaigning for it, whilst saying the Lib-Dems were the party to deliver it. We get a referendum on AV, which is what Labour was going to deliver anyway.

Anyone want to take bets that a new election will wipe out the need even for that, if the Tories win?


  1. D A Isaacs says:

    Pieces of silver, supping with the devil, eternal damnation, all spring to mind.We should have expected it, after all he has spent a lot of time with them in Europe. His lack real political instinct and substance is pretty obvious.On the other hand thank heaven we are not in coalition with them.

  2. Dan Ashton says:

    Every vote the Lib Dems abstain on – while it may placate their angry members, and ease the consciences of socially permissive MPs – must be taken as a vote for the laws.

    Without actual Lib Dem opposition, the other parties cannot vote down Tory laws. That is the heart of the matter.

    This is an outright Liberal-Conservative Government. The surrender of principles by both party leaderships was designed to facilitate a broad tent that can rally behind the ‘national interest’ and push through cuts as a moral imperative rather than a sectional struggle by one class.

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