Sunday, 26 April 2009

The 'Coalition Question'.

. Several blogging responses have been forthcoming to the piece on Liberal Democrat Voice arguing that the prospect of a hung parliament could bolster our election campaign. The first thing to say is that the preconception that it does provide us with any electoral boost is a complete and utter myth; while it does provide us with a glimmer of hope of wielding actual power it also reminds people of our status as a third party. Frankly, it looks a little desperate on our part and is not really the kind of question that lends itself to a wider perception of us being a potential opposition or even one day actual government.

If we look back at gains in elections in 2005 we see clearly that we can make gains when all the polling points to the not even remote prospect of a hung parliament. However, the essential conclusion that the article makes is correct in it's thrust; that any precondition for a coalition is that we get something for our voters; the people we after all are supposed to represent is correct; that the something would most likely be electoral reform is calculated on the premise that it will be the most likely chance of making progress towards it actually occurring. In this economic climate however the 'something' could equally be the pushing through of our tax cut package for lower/middle incomes and this would be of more tangible benefit to our voters and something we could happily boast about having achieved.

Charlotte Gore wants us to totally rule out a coalition with Gordon Brown's Labour which, in the current climate, is not without it's merits as an option. However, you have to factor in the very real likelihood that Labour will ditch Brown post-election. Ruling it out now becomes problematic from the angle that we are going to be fighting in allot of Labour seats where the last thing we need politically is to be easily portrayed as a vote for Conservative government. The risk v reward equation becomes much more finely balanced; it will play well where we are defending against Tories but not in Labour seats where we are hoping to make gains.

Costigan Quist has more the right idea which is to not talk about them at all; although saying we will do what is best for the people who actually do vote for us is a suitably vague and better packaging for the same message. Politics is a bit of a whirlwind of complex, ever-changing reality and it is almost impossible for us to say in the concrete what our position would be in an abstract future right here, right now. All we can and should say is that we will represent our voters effectively and that we will not enter a coalition where they gain nothing in concrete policy terms from our potential coalition partners.


Robert Jacques said...

I think we should not commit to either of the other parties but say one thing we would demand in any coalition government would be that Vince Cable be given the role of Chancellor. This would make it difficult for both parties. 1 It will be popular with the public as many would prefer Vince to be the Chancellor anyway. 2. it would cause internal rifts with both other parties.

Darrell G said...


Nice to see you on my blog :), I however, dont think that demanding the advancement of one person into government is the way forward, rather we have to have a concrete and BIG policy win....

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