Who was the winner in the new coalition, asks Mike Smithson on PB, Clegg or Cameron? The ancient definition of the word ‘politics’ was the outright winner, in my opinion. Politics is always ‘the art of the possible’, and nothing more.
Cameron and Clegg have done what was possible under the circumstances. Everything else was impossible. They have created a relationship of trust and goodwill by making concessions, not to score points.
It is a great advantage to Cameron to only have one opposition, and to Clegg and the LD’s to share in power. These are not insubstantial benefits. To get rid of Labour finally after thirteen years is a massive achievement. We have to celebrate for a second or two.
What’s To Be The New Name?
What’s going to be the shorthand for the Liberal Democrat Conservative Governing Coalition? The LDCGC? I hear the term ‘The Change Coalition’ being used, but that’s going to tire very quickly, if it hasn’t already.
Cameron (right) and Clegg, Head Labradoodle and Deputy Labradoodle
I think the word ‘labradoodle’ is worthy of some consideration in this regard, the successful cross between the poodle and the labrador which swept the UK in the last ten years. The steady temperament of the labrador, mixed with the suppressed hunting instinct of the poodle, plus its cuteness seems apt to this joining of Cameron’s steady solid Conservative approach and the Lib Dem’s more Cleggasmic appeal.
I am deliberately not thinking of the traditional unkind political interpretations of the characteristics these breeds – the Labrador the typical Conservative traditional middle class hunting, fishing and shooting family pet, and the poodle the slightly sickening sidekick. It’s more about the words.
There is a nice alliteration, and assonance between Liberal and Labra-, and Liberal Democrat with Labradoodle. Labradoodle would have made a good name for the Lib Dems come to think of it, as the Lib Dems are, in their own right, a mongrel breed, being originally the joining of the Social Democrats and the Liberals. But the Labradoodle breed had not been developed at that time.
Maybe we could call the new alliance ‘The Labratoodles’, mixing in the word Tory. No. I prefer the original ‘Labradoodle’. It would be more fun than the rather serious and a bit meaningless ‘The Change Coalition’.
The labradoodle, sadly developed too late to give the Liberal Democrats a rather suitable nickname. But now this mixed breed could possibly help the Conservative/Liberal Democrat alliance to find a more interesting name..
Here are the prime Labradoodle policies as listed in The Guardian –
We have been compiled an analysis of the policies agreed by the coalition. This is a long post, but it is effectively the manifesto for the coalition government, the agenda for the next five years, and so it is worth posting in full.
Economic measures for an agreement which has deficit reduction “at its heart”
• £6b in year cuts in non frontline services subject to the advice from the treasury and the bank of england (Tory)
• Scrapping of national insurance rises (Tory)
• A substantial increase in the personal tax allowance from April 2011 with a focus on low and middle income earners, with a “long term goal” of a £10,000 personal tax allowance. There is no a timetable for this, but there is a promise to make further real term steps each year towards this objective. This is described as a “funded increase”. It will be funded by taking the money the Tories had planned to use to increase the employee threshold for national insurance, and by an increase in capital gains tax for non business assets to bring it closer to the level of income tax.
• Marriage tax allowance. The liberal democrats have agreed to abstain on this, which gives the Tories a “real chance” of getting that through.
Lib Dem pledges that have been dropped
• Tax relief for higher rate pensioners will not be pursued
• Mansion tax
Tory pledges that have been dropped
• Raising the threshold on inheritance tax which is described as “unlikely to be achieved in this parliament”.
Lib Dems priorities that have been secured
• Referendum to bring in some form of alternative vote system. Coalition members will be subject to three-line whip to force the legislation for a referendum through, but they will be free to campaign against the reforms before referendum.
• New pupil premium to be introduced, steering more funding to schools for every child they take from poor homes. Both parties back this policy, but the Lib Dem version attaches more money to it.
• Reducing the tax burden on low earners. This could go some way towards the Lib Dem aim of lifting tax threshold to £10,000.
• A wholly or mainly elected house of Lords.
• More equal constituency sizes
• Fixed term parliaments, including this one. The next general election will be held on the first Thursday of May 2015. Legislation will mean such agreements can only be broken by an enhanced majority of the House of Commons.
Tory priorities that have been secured
• A cap on immigration and an end to child detention immigration controls (the latter was a Lib Dem proposal).
• Welfare reform programme to be implemented in full.
• School reform programme providing all schools are held accountable.
• A commitment to maintaining Britain’s nuclear deterrent. Renewal of Trident will be scrutinised to ensure value for money. Liberal Democrats will be free to continue the case for alternatives.
• The government will make no proposals to join the euro.
• No proposals to transfer new powers to the European Union.
• A referendum lock will ensure that any proposal to transfer new powers must by law be put to a referendum.
Areas that were already in agreement will see a major programme of civil liberties
• A great repeal or freedom bill to scrap the ID card scheme and the national identity register and the next generation of biometric passports
• Extending the scope of the Freedom of Information bill to provide greater transparency
* Adopt protections of the Scottish model for the DNA database
• Protecting trial by jury
• Reviewing libel laws to protect freedom of speech
• Further regulation of CCTV and other items
• Measures to boost economy in key areas such as low-carbon industries and investment in infrastructure. A green investment bank, a smart grid, retention of energy performance certificates while scrapping home information packs.
Areas of opt outs for either party
• Lib Dems will be free to maintain their opposition to nuclear power while permitting the government to put forward the national planning statement for ratification by parliament so that new nuclear construction becomes possible.
• A banking levy will be introduced.
• Bonuses will be tackled.
• A “more competitive banking industry”.
• More credit to flow to businesses. The proposals of the respective parties will be looked at before deciding which is the better one.
• An independent commission will be set up to consider Lib Dem proposals to separate retail and investment banking and the Tories’ proposals for a quasi separation. An interim report will be published within a year.
• The Bank of England could be given control of macro prudential regulation and oversight of micro prudential regulation under proposals to be put forward.
Simon Heffer in The Telegraph sees a turbulent marriage ahead for the Labradoodles. Well he would, wouldn’t he! Read him here.