The Futility Monster

He'll pointlessly derive more enjoyment out of your resources than you

Lib Dem Coalition Arrangements: Idle Speculation

Posted by The Futility Monster on January 25, 2010 @ 18:00

Here's one recent example of a Lib Dem coalition that didn't turn out too well...

Let’s just speculate for a moment.

Cos, let’s face it, it’s highly unlikely we’ll be seeing Lib Dems in government in the next few decades. It’s all us liberals have to cling to, don’t you know…

Let’s speculate that the election produces a situation where either Labour or the Tories are a significant number short of a majority, making an agreement with the Lib Dems the only possibility on the table.

Let’s then assume that the Lib Dems “triple-lock” is successfully undone. That is, the MPs, the national party, and the members at large all approve a coalition deal.

We could all imagine what Lib Dems might move into prominent positions. It’s custom for the leader to get the second biggest job. In countries that have a tradition of coalitions, they also traditions for the portfolio the deputy gets. See Germany, where the junior coalition partner always gets Foreign Affairs. Coalitions in the UK invariably end up with a “Deputy First Minister”, traditionally perceived as enjoying a wide remit across government.

Unfortunately, the post of Deputy Prime Minister does not have the same status, thanks to its typical use as a patronage appointment to shore up the party. See Michael Heseltine and John Prescott.

Perhaps the revival of the title of First Secretary of State might interest Clegg. But then again, receiving anything off Peter Mandelson is always dodgy territory.

Everyone expects that we would see Vince Cable as Chancellor. That would be very exciting. It might mean Cable might actually get a chance to put his harsh words on economic affairs, including the latest attack on the structure of banking, into practice. But somehow, I doubt these proposals would survive the government machine. Radical proposals invariably don’t.

But if Cable gets Chancellor, it would put Clegg in a difficult position. Any post he takes will play second fiddle to whatever Our Vince has. You can’t see Clegg, who would be the first Liberal leader to take the party into government for nearly a century, wanting to sell himself short.

So maybe Cable won’t get Chancellor after all. Clegg to the Home Office would be good, and perhaps Cable Chief Secretary to the Treasury. Then, in reality, we’re probably only talking about one more smaller portfolio. Environment? Housing? Something us Lib Dems are noted for; it wouldn’t hurt our profile in that area if we got to lead the news on it for a little while.

But let’s face it, the coalition wouldn’t last. The last real coalition was, of course, during World War II. We’re way out of practice, and I suspect any deal would be on the understanding that it was short, sharp, delivered fast reform (including proportional representation of some kind!) and then dissolved to get a better mandate.

Like I said though, none of it will actually happen.

Still, it’s nice to dream. And it fills up a blog post!


One Response to “Lib Dem Coalition Arrangements: Idle Speculation”

  1. […] January, I wrote this post. Apart from a slight factual inaccuracy about the Lib Dems “triple lock” process it now […]

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