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The trouble with coalitions is……

with 4 comments

……..they can  hardly ever tread a straight path.

In some other European countries such as Belgium and Italy, where the electoral system is forever throwing together pacts and coalitions between parties, they are used to seeing compromises, here in the UK we are more likely to call them “U-turns”. Whether its on deficit reduction, higher education, NHS reform, defence, or justice the ConLib coalition is constantly in flux with policy being driven more by the need to keep the coalition together than what might be seen as the necessities of good government.

In many respects this was to have been expected when David Cameron’s Conservatives and Nick Clegg’s Liberal Democrats drew up their agreement last year after we failed to make a clear decisive choice at the general election, but by far the biggest flaw at the outset was the agreement manipulated by David Cameron to engineer a five year fixed Parliament. With this new restriction in place Cameron probably felt that he had a chance of carrying through most, but not all, of his party’s programme, with a few adjustments along the way. However, it is inevitable that tensions will arise within government and within the two parties making up the administration, and as one policy after another appears to the press and Opposition as being ill judged or poorly formulated detractors can (almost justifiably) point to yet another U-turn or abandonment of important party principle. During previous periods when we have had either a minority government or a government getting by with a small majority the most important opposition has come from within the ranks of the governing party keeping the executive on its toes, this is not quite so easy to achieve when two parties are involved. The other important position to note was that a major defeat for such a government in The House of Commons might lead to a new general election as the Prime Minister attempts to secure a good working majority.

David Cameron, unfortunately decided to tie his own hands behind his back with the fixed term Parliament and it would take an enormous effort from MPs to force him back to the polls, it has also tied Nick Clegg into a very tight arrangement which so far has resulted in his party becoming the whipping boys for the coalition,  some say Cameron has played a blinder! I don’t, and I see this coalition arrangement leading to weakened policy as some on the right wing of the Tories become more vociferous, and more on the left wing of the Liberal Democrats become more rebellious, “fudge” will become the flavour of the month! I would have been far happier with a much more fluid and loose voting arrangement between the parties, without Lib-Dem ministers, that would enable a Cameron government to start out along its path, with the possibility of a sooner rather than later general election to try and cement his position.

The risk of a government falling can actually strengthen its hand with its own backbenchers and fortify its survival measures. There is nothing quite like the threat of losing one’s seat to exercise the minds of those recalcitrant MPs in marginal seats (of all parties), as they huff and puff to try and blow the government off course!

The five year fixed Parliament is a classic illustration of fixing something which was not broken at the outset.

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Written by curly

June 21, 2011 at 1:36 pm

4 Responses

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  1. National Governments during wartime seem to have placed their duty first and foremost to the nation. Alas the current inhabitants of HM Government, who espouse that there is a real ‘emergency’ in terms of the economy, do not stand by their own ‘just cause’. The liberals are more closely aligned with Labour but who would want to be seen to be associated with the losing side? Hence the mix match that we now have, in fairness the five year rule was probably meant to ensure that ‘a’ government would have to stay the distance. Unfortunately, Labour has not taken the opportunity, yet, to use their time in the wilderness to foster good opposition and sort themselves out. The Conservatives however spent all their time whilst in opposition telling us how good they would be and how they would be the supporters of middle England.
    Ed Balls is attempting to ensure that the unions react to the current slaughter of our public sector in a sensible way, however, the government, uncaring as it is, would love to have a summer and autumn of discontent to steer the public away from their broken promises, issues that they are attempting to put into effect that were not on any manifesto (NHS), the u-turns (there are more u-turns in this government than in all the pipe work section of a plumbers shop), and the thing I fear most the distancing of central government from the regions.
    Curly, I think you are right to express concern, but what you see is the design, plan and intention of the Cameron government. He is very good at public performances but his poor response to Ed Milliband’s questions on the loss of support to those recovering from cancer showed that he lacks real substance.
    Where is the voice of the Conservative members who are involved in politics for our region? Are they letting the government know of their concerns? No single party won – we should not forget that, and any poker player would have wished to keep the options open for the best opportunity for another run at it – so it may be that the five year rule may result in Cameron in effect deposing himself – let’s wait and see! No one can be happy at what we have at the moment where the tail is wagging the dog.
    I would ask if the current government realise that there are those who want to work but can’t find the opportunity or are they right – people are stuck on a benefits culture and are happy to simply take their benefits?


    June 21, 2011 at 2:32 pm

  2. Just an addendum…I now see on the BBC cameron is critical of military chiefs views on the situation in Libya, add that to the medical professions, the charity representatives, the archbishop of Canterbury, voices fromhe victims of crime and yes…we have a caring listening government. Not!
    Curly is this a listening, caring government?


    June 21, 2011 at 2:43 pm

  3. “We are all in it together”…. couple of hours of virtual reality in front of computer screen, then off to catch up with a favourite TV programme; meanwhile in the real world underpaid, salary frozen public sector workers are putting out fires, arresting scamsters and rapists, teaching in leaky roofed schools, only to go home read the “Gazette” and be lectured about their cushy working days and goldplated pensions. CamClegg’s Britain a coalition of people who make money and others who try to make their fello citizen’s lives better…


    June 24, 2011 at 2:59 pm

  4. So according to our “virtual reality” self confessed non meeting attending politico people earning c 27K per annum and retiring on a 10K per annum pension are “greedy” and enjoy a “luxury lifestyle”,cue for Steve Bruce to reappraise the contracts at SAFC. If that represents the sort of balls pased by the right wing no wonder the forward line of cabinet millionaires keep scoring own goals. Wonder if he lost the plot of “The Shadow Line” too?


    June 30, 2011 at 8:29 am

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