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Saturday, March 26, 2016

Lib Dems know where the Tories have buried the bodies

Actually that headline sounds worse than it was intended. Speaking figuratively, it refers to a piece in the Independent about the problems that the Tories have got themselves in now that the Liberal Democrats are not there to keep them in check. The key passage in this article is here:

Some Tory ministers admit privately that they miss their former Coalition partners. Why? Because the need to square the Lib Dems meant there was a form of Cabinet government. Since the election, they say, most key decisions are handed down by Downing Street and the Treasury, and that no one else matters.

Mr Clegg’s constant claims that the Lib Dems “anchored the Coalition in the centre ground” cut little ice with the voters in May last year – many of whom, as Mr Laws concludes, never forgave their original decision to join forces with the Tories in 2010. But Mr Clegg was right, and the restraining hand of his party helped to blunt the Tory axe. In turn, this helped Mr Cameron win enough trust to secure an overall majority last year – a bitter irony for the Lib Dems, who did the right thing for the country in 2010, if not for themselves.

Most Tories did not expect to win the election. They thought their best hope was another Con-Lib coalition. Mr Osborne was almost certainly banking on the Lib Dems wielding a veto on some of the £12bn of welfare cuts in the Tory manifesto.

If the Tories were still in coalition now, the Lib Dems would surely have stopped the Chancellor’s proposed £4.4bn cuts to disability benefits getting past first base. So he would have avoided his humiliating post-Budget climbdown and further damaging the Tory brand. The Lib Dems might have saved a bit less money, but they might also have saved the Tories from themselves.

We paid a huge price for going into coalition with the Tories, but we did so for all the right reasons. If, in addition to the many Liberal Democrats policies that were implemented such as the Green Investment Bank, tax cuts for the low paid, pupil premium, protection for pensions etc, we also stopped some very unsavoury Tory policies being implemented and protected a lot of vulnerable people then that is some real consolation.
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