Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Liberal Democrats face the challenge of government

It has been an interesting few days since Mr. Cameron made his first offer of a coalition to the Liberal Democrats. Now the coalition agreement is published and it is a thoughtful and quite well crafted document. Many will be unhappy that the Liberal Democrats have gone into coalition with the Conservatives, but to my mind there was neither the numbers nor the will for Labour to even come to the table. In the end we will have to place a degree of trust in Mr. Cameron's word: but it is trust which rests on the knowledge that any betrayal of the agreement would be seen as such and either side may be punished if they fail to follow through on their commitments.

The agreement includes a commitment to a fixed Parliament: so the next general election date should be already set for the first Thursday of May 2015: personally I would prefer an October electoral timetable, but May it will now have to be. It includes provisions for a referendum on AV for the House of Commons and to address the constitutional problems that Labour has left with its partial devolution set up. It contains detailed policy agendas for education and the economy.

It is only a start, but with Liberal Democrats not merely providing a critique, but actual and substantive proposals, it is also a challenge to the party: can the new more collaborative and open politics we propose actually function in practice?

The British people will be waiting to give a verdict, but it will be over the full five years that the judgement must be made, not the absurd hundred day timetables that the media likes to insist upon.

We must hope for the best and trust our new leaders- though perhaps only for as long as they can demonstrate that they deserve that trust.


Newmania said...

Where is the enthusiasm CS ?Perhaps you are still a bit sore from the failure to manage election expectations .It is only that misjudgment that made a stunning achievement appear less so.

To retain a substantial block in a tight election under FPP ? Nick Clegg deserves enormous faith and respect for this historic personal triumph . Just think CS your efforts have changed the country , probably forever .

The funny thing is that although the Conservative Party have far more support I have the distinct feeling that the Lib Dems are the ones who are finding the idea of compromise harder. I suppose you do not become a Liberal to compromise whereas Conservatsim has always had a huge dollop of pragmatism . I agree with your suspicion that the media will prefer a soap opera to an administration and the immediate future cannot be an easy one.

On electoral experiment it is true that the principle of proportionality was too much ignored and the reality of the Lib Dem seats / votes ratio had to be addressed . It had reached the point of seriously undermining the legitimacy of the government . Proportionality is only one issue though , voters not Parties are the point and I cannot say I have noticed an underrepresentation of Liberal values . Still I daresay the constitution will not stop evolving here , perhaps there are convincing arguments that I must listen to politely ?

..and the sun shone as well

JPJ2 said...

I would like to raise an issue with you.

In an exchange of e mails before the election on the debates I pointed out that Salmond was the only true leader taking part in the Scotland debates.

You assured me that Alexander was the undisputed Leader of the Scottish Liberal Democrats.

I am therefore amazed to discover that Danny Alexander and not Carmicheal is the Sec. of State for Scotland.

I therefore assume that this is a decision made by Nick Clegg, the true leader of the LibDems in Scotland-am I somehow wrong in believing that?

JPJ2 said...

Sorry-fallen prey to the general confusion-please read "Carmichael" for "Alexander" in para 3.

Caron said...

The date for the next GE is the same day as the 2015 Scottish election. I suspect that may have to change. Do you think there's a likelihood of that?

Cicero said...

Actually as I said then and now repeat, Tavish Scott is the leader of the Scottish Party: Alastair Carmichael was shadow Secretary of State and the debate was of the Secretary of state and his shadows. The SNP does not even appoint such a figure.

The shadow Scottish Office portfolio was in the gift of the Lib Dem Federal Leader, in consultation with the Scottish Party. Nick Clegg reshuffled the Lib Dem portfolios, so Danny Alexander became the actual Secretary of State, while David Mundell, the Tory Shadow Secreatry of State lost out, becoming a junior minister in the Scotland Office, and Al Carmichael is becoming deputy chief whip