Today’s announcement that the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats are to form a coalition government represents a very brave decision by Nick Clegg.
The Labour party have taken the easy way out. They have made it clear that they weren’t interested in working with us in a progressive coalition, and they have opted for opposition at a time when the country needs a stable government to deal with the financial crisis. Labour already seem to be descending into infighting and disagreements and look to be stuck in the wilderness for years.
Once Labour were out of the picture, the only remaining options were a minority Conservative government, or a Lib-Con coalition. Clearly the latter is preferable in the interests of the country. It will lose us many votes at future elections, but the prospects of getting Lib Dem policies into law is exciting.
Initial indications are that we will get the basic level of income tax raised to £10,000 so that no one earning less than this pays any income tax at all. That is a fantastic achievement. We should also get a nation-wide referendum on AV (transferable vote), and ID cards should be scrapped. So far so good.
But of course there will be compromises. I’m not keen on George Osborne as chancellor. It will be interesting to see what cabinet posts Nick and Vince get. Beyond the initial policy agreements, we could be in for a rocky ride over the next few years – if indeed the coalition lasts that long.
Let’s be clear. As a liberal social democrat, I have an intense dislike of the Conservative party, but I have no time for New Labour either. Nick Clegg made it abundantly clear during the election campaign that he would work to deliver Lib Dem policies with whoever was willing to talk to him. It will be interesting to see how it all works out.
I wish him the very best of luck.