Something keeps happening regarding the political discourse in this country since the election. Both the Conservatives and the Lib Dems keep being accused of having "broken" their pledges.
We saw it again yesterday. The compromises that were reached by both sides regarding the budget in the coalition government are described as "U-turns" or abandonment of pre-election pledges etc.
I saw Bob Russell, the Lib Dem MP being interviewed talking about how he had been elected on a platform that was in some ways quite different from what had been announced yesterday. I also heard a Tory MP on the radio bemoaning the fact that he had campaigned promising not to raise Capital Gains Tax.
The problem is that the way all the parties campaigned before the election was under the assumption that they would have an overall majority after the election. Yes, even the Lib Dems. The political dynamics that have evolved around the First Past the Post system essentially require each party to talk as if they will have all the power. In the last few decades that has actually not been an unreasonable position for either of the two main parties to take. However this year has of course now proved them wrong.
Perhaps we will see a change in the dynamics of the way the next general election campaign is fought. Perhaps the parties will talk more about what they will fight for and their specific priorities on these fronts than talking as if they will be able to decide everything without having to compromise. Then again maybe we won't. Old campaigning will likely die hard.
I have always been in favour of a more proportional system and therefore I actively welcome the sort of politics where compromise needs to be reached on issues as we are seeing now. Yesterday's budget would not have been the same if the Conservatives had had an overall majority. I do not think the income tax starting point would have been raised by anything like £1,000 nor do I think that Capital Gains Tax would have increased to 28% for higher earners. There are other areas too which have a distinctly Lib Dem flavour. However there is no denying that there are things in the budget that we would not have had were there a Lib Dem majority. That is not a "betrayal". It is a simple reflection of the fact that we did not get enough votes/seats to form that majority.
Also, those opposition politicians screaming "betrayal" at the Lib Dems should reflect on how unwilling their leadership was to engage in meaningful coalition talks and also how the electorate had dealt a hand that made such a route fragile at best.
There will have to be more compromise over the coming years. That's how coalition government works. Everyone needs to recognise this new reality.