So, it looks like its finally resolved. Brown’s gone. Cameron’s in. And LibDem’s have jumped into bed with the Tories. Oh dear. Yes, I can see why it may have happened. But as part of the more left-wing part of the party, I can never support a LibDem/Tory coalition. I genuinely think this is the start of a serious destruction of the LibDems. We are going to be seriously squeezed in the next election. Labour will replace us in the north – we have already lost control of councils such as Sheffield – and the Tories will replace us in the south.
We are going to be the soft face of a nasty government. But there again, how soft are we in practice? There have been reports that Labour, rightly, did not do a deal with us because we want more wide-ranging, deeper public services cuts – starting this year (whatever happened to Cable’s rejection of the Tories’ economic polices?). You can tell Clegg went into the Labour talks not wanting a deal, instead, they happened just to purely satisfy the members. Well, Clegg has made his choice. He will get his power, as rumour is it he will be deputy leader. But, he will lose a lot of the core. The core who have been so vigorously opposed to most of what the Tories stand for.
The LibDem MPs have been well whipped so far, but there will be defections. It will be interesting to see who does defect. You can tell that many of the more centre left MPs are grimmicing when they throw their ‘support’ behind the coalition proposals. Whilst it sounds promising that Tory policies such as inheritance tax has been put on ‘hold’, and they will look at implementing a compromised version of our tax reforms (“look at” and “compromised” is key here), I think that the fixed parliament reform, which was much-needed, will secure us into a long and painful death.
One thing we have to remember however, is that this was a real opportunity for PR wasted. We didn’t really push Labour far enough to try to get PR on a referendum – as I said, it was clear the leadership never really wanted to go with Labour. Instead, we will have to settle for AV, well a referendum on AV.
Regardless, I sense things to come for the LibDems may not be as rosy as the leadership may think and hope. When we come to important issues such as Europe, immigration, environment and higher education funding (will Clegg uncap the tuition fees and push his core membership even further away?), it is going to be very interesting to see how well the Tory whip is sustained across the LibDem MPs.
I hope I am wrong. I hope this coalition is good for the country, and the LibDems. But personally, I feel this will be nothing short of a disaster. Suffice to say, I don’t agree with Nick.