Thoughts on politics and life from a liberal perspective

Sunday, 9 May 2010

The problem with "Confidence and Supply"

One of the options on the table during the current negotiations
between the Conservatives and Lib Dems is the idea of a "Confidence
and Supply" agreement. This would fall short of a full coalition and
hence would not give cabinet and government positions to any Lib Dems.

The idea is that the Lib Dems would allow a budget to pass and also
agree not to bring down the government in the case of a vote of no
confidence. In return the LDs would have some measure of influence but
would only support bills on a case by case basis and would not be
obliged in any case.

The problem with this approach is that I am not convinced that all of
the public will make the distinction between C&S and a full coalition.
Some will just be vaguely aware that we "propped up the Tories". I
expect this will be drummed into them by Labour candidates in every LD/
Labour seat.

We should think very carefully before entering into something like
this. I am far from convinced that this is the right way forward. It
would be better to either walk away altogether or go for a full
blooded coalition.

I think a halfway house could leave us with very little influence but
considerable political exposure on the downside.

7 comments:

Constantly Furious said...

Like it or not, Mark, that's where we're headed. The LibDems poor showing in the GE leaves them in a poor position to demand anything more, and we all know your party aren't going to buy the Brownlies.

So, it's either accept C & S or watch a minority govt. from the sidelines.

Tell me I'm wrong ... ;-)

Bernard Salmon said...

I think it's a finely judged political decision to take. Would C+S really be worse than allowing a minority Tory government which would be open to defeat at every single point? Would there not also be a political price to pay for the inevitable instability such a government would face?

Iain Coleman said...

Would there not also be a political price to pay for the inevitable instability such a government would face?

Yes, but not by us. Any instability would be blamed on the minority government. The imagine otherwise is to massively overestimate the sophistication of political discourse in the 21st century.

Cardinal Richelieu's mole said...

Yes - "I am far from convinced that this is the right way forward. It would be better to either walk away altogether or go for a full blooded coalition. I think a halfway house could leave us with very little influence but considerable political exposure on the downside" - let us keep a proper perspective:

Number 1 Party, Number 2 (if at all) Country.

Well done mate, for in these troubled times looking after number 1 is the right thing to do! (That part of the "new politics" at all?)

Also, what makes you believe full coalition would not result in "us with very little influence but considerable political exposure on the downside"?

Caron said...

I think a c and s, or us positioning ourselves as protectors of fairness in the parliament makes it more transparent when we have won concessions.

In a coalition, our influence is easier to hide because the measures will be brought forward by a Con/LD govt rather than by a minority Con Govt and amended by LDs.

Dingdongalistic said...

Confidence and Supply would be important, because otherwise Brown could drag his heels for a long time until he was voted down by the house. Whereas a deal by the Liberal Democrats to guarantee supply and confidence votes, at least under certain conditions, would guarantee a stability for Cameron in no. 10 that would make Brown's position untenable.

The Liberal Democrats have to do something. Far better to do the principled thing and risk irritating a few activists, than allowing an uncomfortable situation to develop where Brown stays in power, uncertain of Parliamentary control, for another few months.

NoetiCat said...

@Constantly Furious: "So, it's either accept C & S or watch a minority govt. from the sidelines.

Tell me I'm wrong ... ;-)"

Is it too late to tell you that you were wrong? ;-)