This post was originally posted as a comment to the previous article: “Britain’s New Politics: The Clameron Government”.
That was a totally biased and negative article, and one that fails to mention some of the significant and excellent reforms/policies that are coming, many of which might well be considered “Left” and many which might never have existed if not for the Lib-Dems deciding to influence policy constructively instead of hissing from the sidelines.
Better to see many of your policies implemented than none at all. Better to cooperate than burn bridges, poison wells and salt fields.
Yes, a simple-majority AV referendum, but also a committee inquiry to a proportional and potentially fully elected House of Lords. Plus a commitment in the interim to ensure appointments to the Lords work towards a balance that reflects the proportion of votes received at the general election.
Fixed term parliaments, the right to recall you MP, reform of the House of Commons based on all of the Wright Committee recommendations, a massive overhaul and modernisation of government.
Yes, nuclear deterrence stays, but a review will be done to ensure value for money which is in essence the Lib-Dem policy, which insisted paying for Trident right now is wrong.
Yes, nuclear power stations can still be built, at least the Lib-Dems get to make an opposing statement and abstain. The Lib-Dems gave ground on economics and on immigration, but they get to influence what this “cap” will be and at least they’re now stopping the Labour Government’s abhorrent practice of imprisoning immigrant children.
Not joining the Euro? Well that was never going to happen any time soon. Referendum on ceding powers to Europe, democratic at least. Ensuring the independence of our judiciary from Europe; maybe not so good, the European courts were the only ones in recent years able to hold back the onslaught of civil liberty erosion visited upon us by Labour.
Sweeping improvements to civil liberties, repealing all those laws and statutes that Labour was using to bring about its fascist/Stalinist utopia where the government knows everything about everyone every second of the day.
Also reform of the libel laws and reform of lobbying.
Green policies, maybe not as sweeping as the Greens might like, but steps in the right direction. Plane tax, instead of passenger tax, which is a Lib-Dem policy. Expansion of green schemes, no third runway, a high-speed rail network and Chris Huhne a man with real environment credentials in the cabinet overseeing it, something that must have those climate change denying Tories apoplectic.
Yes, reform of party funding so that fat-cat union bosses can’t blackmail the Labour party any more, but that also means people like Lord Ashcroft can’t do the same to the conservatives any more either. The beneficiaries of this will be the smaller parties, like the Lib-Dems, the Greens, etc, with, if not a levelling, at least an improvement to the playing field.
And let’s talk about the Left issues some more, things like welfare, education, aiding the poorest, the NHS. Link of state pensions to earnings. Annual pension increase guarantee; always the highest of earnings increase, price increase, or 2.5%. Real term funding increases to the NHS, safeguarding that service; actually a concession of the Lib-Dems to the Tories.
Increase in the tax allowance to £10k phased in over a number of years; of significant benefit to the poorest. Increases in capital gains tax bringing it close or equal to income tax levels; essentially a tax on the richest, and another Lib-Dem policy.
Improvements in education, more freedom for teachers to teach and not follow government diktats. Smaller class sizes, extra money for pupils from poorer backgrounds.
There is a lot of good stuff there. Most of which wouldn’t have happened under Labour (they’d been lying about reforming government for 13 years after all) and a lot of which would not have happened in a Tory minority government nor in a fragile rainbow alliance.
The Tories turned out to be surprisingly honest and willing to compromise in their negotiations and the Lib-Dems reciprocated. The Lib-Dems allowed to abstain, without endangering the coalition, on issue they’d find highly contentious, certainly an indication that both parties are determined to make this coalition stable and durable. Grown-up politics instead of the bullying ya-boo politics usually associated with this country. Something it now emerges the Labour party was never prepared to do.
Is all of this brilliant? Some of it yes, some of it not so much, and some I’d rather be without, but at least it’s steps in the right direction. Only a fool would choose to have none of their policies instead of some/many of their policies. The impressive amount of support for Lib-Dem policies, especially considering the relative sizes of the two coalition partners, clearly vindicates the decision to negotiate with the Tories.
The only thing that’s left open is how well this coalition will last and if it can really deliver on its promise. I certainly hope it does.
Full coalition policy agreement are available at the BBC News website.
“Martin” is a Liberal Democrat party member. His opinions and views
are his own and may not reflect those of the party.
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