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Sunday, December 29, 2013

Policies for a second coaiition

According to this piece in the Independent Nick Clegg would accept Ed Balls as a member of any coalition cabinet after the next election. It is not clear whether Ed Miliband is of the same view.

It seems to me to be somewhat premature to be talking about these issues given the current state of the polls and the fact that we still await the verdict of the British electorate on coalition politics per se. It is likely in my view, that both Ed Miliband and David Cameron will spend the election trashing the idea of coalitions in the hope that they can persuade voters to give them a majority.  Both will use the unpopularity of Nick Clegg to reinforce their view.

It is a relief therefore that we are approaching this from a policy perspective rather than personalities. The paper sets out how that position might look:

Policy demands Mr Clegg is likely to make include extending the pupil premium, a flagship Lib Dem measure introduced under the coalition, further tax cuts for low earners and a better deal for the environment. They are also preparing to push hard on the case for electoral reform, despite the disastrous rejection of the alternative vote (AV) system in a referendum in 2011 and the failure of House of Lords reform, two key items on the Lib Dem wish list in 2010.

Mr Clegg wants to see proportional representation (PR) in local government, which senior sources say could be introduced without the need for a national referendum, unlike the AV vote. As the additional member system, a combination of first past the post and PR, is already in place in London Assembly, Scottish Parliament and Welsh Assembly elections, the Lib Dems do not believe voters would object to the idea of PR in local elections because it would not constitute a "huge leap".

However, the Conservatives are staunchly against any form of PR voting – despite a report by the Electoral Reform Society last month showing that the Tories could gain a stronger foothold in north of England councils under PR. Labour would get more council seats in the South outside London, where they are currently at their weakest. Crucially, Mr Miliband is said to be receptive to the idea of PR in local government, and this could clinch a Lib-Lab coalition.

Let us hope that we are in a position to get these policies into the programme of the next government.
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