Political

The basic maths of government: the outlook for the Lib Dems

Today’s Observer includes these comments from myself on the outlook for the Liberal Democrats:

The basic maths of government are very simple: 303 Conservative MPs and 55 Liberal Democrat ones. It is inevitable (and indeed democratic) therefore that any coalition between the parties involves a significant number of Conservative policies being enacted. It is the inevitable downside of taking the opportunity actually to wield a share of power and get a slug of Lib Dem policies through too.

The list is good – helping the least well-off of pupils with the pupil premium, creating green jobs with the Green Investment Bank and taking millions of the lowest-paid out of income tax with the £10,000 income tax allowance, just for starters.

The challenge for the party is to turn the list into a compelling political message that makes people who do not follow the detail of politics feel that getting some Lib Dem policies is better than having none.

And if you missed it, you can watch Newsnight’s preview of party conference, including a short interview with myself and featuring chocolate, but alas not together, over on iPlayer.

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3 responses to “The basic maths of government: the outlook for the Lib Dems”

  1. 303 Tory MPs and 55 Lib Dem MPs. But 36% of Voters voted Tory, 23% voted
    Lib Dem. In terms of vote share, 39% of votes for coalition parties
    went to the Lib Dems in 2010. One might argue that the Lib Dem mandate
    from the electorate far exceeds their actual performance in
    government.

  2. True, Alan, and I support Electoral Reform, but modernising the electoral system to STV without a referendum would have been a step too far for our first coalition.

  3. Yes, that’s a good point Jeremy. In my view the AV referendum was a bad
    decision. I think the Lib Dems should have sought a consultative
    referendum on changing to a more proportional electoral system. If there
    was support from the electorate for a more proportional electoral
    system in principle, then that would have been a perfect opportunity for
    all political parties to come together to discuss the best proportional
    system for the UK. Having a referendum on AV was too narrow a question.
    In 1992 New Zealand held a consultative referendum on changing to a
    more proportional electoral system, and close to 85% of voters supported
    change. That is the model the Lib Dems should have followed in
    coalition negotiations. I can’t help thinking they missed a good opportunity to
    push for electoral reform.

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