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Sunday, October 16, 2011

How the Liberal Democrats continue to keep the Tories in check

This morning's Observer contains another example of how Liberal Democrat Ministers are working to keep the worst excesses of the Conservatives in check.

The paper says that Lynne Featherstone, the Liberal Democrat equalities minister, has attacked the "hideous" ideas of David Cameron's closest aides in a sign of coalition tensions over the government's family policies:

In a wide-ranging interview with the Observer, Featherstone said it was vital the coalition delivered on its family-friendly rhetoric, amid concerns that the government is haemorrhaging support among disillusioned female voters.

In a forthright attack on some of the advisers shaping government policy, she criticised the role of Adrian Beecroft, a venture capitalist tasked with reporting to the prime minister on how to cut regulation on business. Beecroft is understood to have recommended a U-turn on government policies on shared parental leave and flexible working.

The proposals, outlined in a white paper, would allow couples greater freedom to co-ordinate maternity and paternity leave. A separate proposal would make it easier to request flexible working hours.

Featherstone told the Observer that Beecroft's recommendation that the moves should be shelved was not acceptable and would be "swept away". She also made her feelings clear over a recent "blue sky" proposal from Steve Hilton, the prime minister's director of strategy, suggesting that the government could scrap maternity pay altogether. Featherstone said: "Well, I might talk about scrapping Steve Hilton."

Although it is important to encourage business by lifting regulation, it is also the case that workers who are valued work harder and are more committed to their company. Lynne Featherstone recognises that, it seems that some of the Prime Minister's advisors do not.
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