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Thursday, July 25, 2013

Why the UK needs the coalition

If anybody doubted the value of the Liberal Democrats in restraining the worst instincts of the Tories then this article by Andrew Grice in the Independent makes clear how much the United Kingdom needs the coalition for precisely that reason:

At a recent press conference, Nick Clegg cited some of the 40 “loopy” backbench Bills that “my mate Peter Bone” and his allies are introducing – to highlight the right-wing Tory agenda the Liberal Democrats are blocking inside the Coalition. They include bringing back the death penalty; banning the burka; a Margaret Thatcher Day bank holiday; withdrawing from the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR); privatising the BBC and limiting sexual misconduct allegations to breaches of the criminal law.

This list matters not because these Bills have any chance of becoming law now, but because some of them – such as pulling out of the ECHR – would stand a chance if the Tories won an overall majority in 2015. So Mr Clegg will argue that a strong Liberal Democrat presence in the next parliament could rein in a Conservative Party determined to veer right.

Tory strategists, too, are turning their attention to Mr Bone’s gang of about 20 hard-core right-wingers. Although Labour’s opinion poll lead has shrunk, it is going to be very difficult for Mr Cameron to win outright next time. As the election will be fought on the existing constituency boundaries, which favour Labour, the Tories need to be six or seven points ahead to be sure of a majority. Mr Cameron told the BBC’s Andrew Marr on Sunday that he is “going to fight all out for victory,” but a more realistic Tory target is to secure about 35 per cent of the vote and be the largest party.

Mr. Grice says that privately, some senior Tories think a small overall majority might be worse than another coalition because it would leave Mr Cameron dependent on the Commons votes of Bone & Co – crucially, at a time when Europe would top the agenda in the run-up to the in/out referendum Mr Cameron has promised in 2017.

“Imagine picking up the phone to Peter Bone and asking him what he wanted in return for supporting the Government,” one Cabinet minister sighed. The Coalition currently enjoys a majority of 77, sidelining Bone & Co. It is a luxury Mr Cameron can only dream of when he thinks about a Tory-only government.

A Tory Government of any shape is not desirable. One controlled by right-wingers doesn't bear thinking about.
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