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Friday, May 28, 2010

Tories revolting

Just in case anybody doubts that the Liberal Democrats got a lot of what they wanted out of the UK coalition then two articles in this morning's Times should help.

First up is the result of the 1922 Committee elections in which David Cameron was given a bloody nose by Tory backbenchers who chose an MP from the right to champion their independence:

Mr Cameron’s belief that the 148 newly elected Tory MPs owe him a debt of loyalty took another blow when they helped to elect three other well-known rebels to key posts on the committee, set up to defend backbenchers after the failed Conservative coalition with the Liberals under Lloyd George.

Christopher Chope, MP for Christchurch, and Charles Walker, MP for Broxbourne, were elected. Both have spoken out against proposals to require an “enhanced majority” of 55 per cent to dissolve Parliament. Mark Pritchard, MP for The Wrekin, a critic of Mr Cameron, beat Nicholas Soames and Peter Bottomley, Conservative grandees on the Left of the party.

The ballot provides an early indication that Tory MPs are determined not to be marginalised by a coalition Government that has a majority of more than 70.

Meanwhile Liberal Democrat plans to rebalance the tax system are causing some concern in Tory ranks. The paper says that there are signs of a rebellion among high-earning Tory supporters preparing for a fire sale of shares and second homes because they are worried about changes to capital gains tax.

They add that the Chancellor is now holding discussions with Tory critics, signalling that he is prepared to negotiate a compromise. He is understood to be looking at a range of options, from minimising the rise to restricting the scope of tax so that it hits fewer people. But Mr Osborne must still raise enough cash to satisfy Liberal Democrats that there has been progress on their signature plan for a tax break for lower and middle earners, due next April.

All of this is of course very interesting but it does not mean that the coalition is being blown off course, just that there is a period of discussion and internal adjustment that happens in any new government. It also underlines the fact that this is neither a Conservative nor a Liberal Democrat government but a genuine partnership, contrary to the rabid rhetoric of Labour and Plaid Cymru.
Are you really rebalancing the tax system? Are taxes for higher earners increasing proportionally?
One might add the report that David Davies (Monmouth) expects to be elected as chairman of the Welsh Affairs Committee. He sometimes gives the impression of not wishing to be in the same party as many of more liberal Conservatives, never mind coalition with another party.
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