Thoughts on politics and life from a liberal perspective

Wednesday, 12 May 2010

Now we need to prove that coalitions can work

What an amazing, historic day in UK politics yesterday was! For the first time since the Second World War we now have MPs from the liberal party in government and the first coalition since then too.

It is an exciting time and looking at the policies that appear to be shaping up to form part of the new government's programme I would suggest that our negotiating team has done a good job.

There are of course some people both inside and outside the Lib Dems who are not happy about this turn of events. There are accusations of "selling out" etc. But what I would say to those who feel like this is to ask what the alternatives were? It was clear that trying to form some sort of agreement with Labour was never going to work - we did actually try. The other option would have been to sit on the sidelines and allow the Tories to govern in minority but that would likely not have lasted more than a few months and we would then have had another election which could easily have thrown up a similar situation, or perhaps even a Conservative majority. In the meantime the financial situation would not have been properly tackled. Is that what they would have preferred?

As I mentioned in a blogpost I wrote yesterday, because we as a party support a proportional electoral system which would regularly throw up parliaments where no one party had an overall majority we have to prove that coalitions can work. This is our opportunity to do so and I for one am very pleased that we have grasped the opportunity with both hands. I also think that the apparent commitment for this government to run for a fixed term of 5 years is right as it gives the stability both parties and the country needs to be able to govern effectively. I always said coalitions could only work if we had some sort of fixed term agreement.

An interesting quirk of the current situation is that the Conservatives now also have a vested interest in proving that coalition governments can work. This would make their arguments against a more proportional voting system in the future a bit more difficult to make further down the line.

I didn't get involved with the Lib Dems to see us in perpetual opposition. I always suspected that our opportunity to prove ourselves would come in the next few years.

We now get to stamp our mark on the governance of this country. Of course there are risks and dangers but there are also big potential rewards too. We are able to show the public what sort of a difference the Lib Dems can make in government. We will have experienced ministers with a record to point to at the next election. I would rather we were in there making a difference and able to help moderate Conservative policies as well as enacting some of our own. It will once and for all nail the argument so often used against us that a vote for the Lib Dems is a wasted vote.

We are in unchartered territory for UK politics. It is exciting but also our ministers and MPs have a big responsibility.

We have our shot now. History will judge us on how we respond to this opportunity in the next few years.


Kalvis Jansons said...

Yesterday, might turn out to be the most important day in UK political history.

Blog of Sticks said...

Good post - I've found it baffling as to why some LD supporters are so against a coalition. Surely you have to buy into the need to prove coalition and thus a PR system can work and that it involves compromise. You can't choose to negotiate only with your best fit opponent(s) at all times particularly when that provides no realistic majority government.
Such are the trials and tribulations of a party that holds a large popular vote and often the balance of power. Time to get on with the job perhaps.