The Futility Monster

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

Posts Tagged ‘Lib-Con coalition’

12 For 2012

Posted by The Futility Monster on January 2, 2012 @ 20:23

Continuing a fine annual tradition, it’s time to lay down a few markers for the coming year. It’s going to be a busy one, methinks…

  1. Starting at home, with yet another boring prediction, the Coalition will last the whole year. Get used to it, Labourites. It ain’t going anywhere.
  2. The Lib Dems will take a pounding in the local elections, especially in Scottish councils, where they will be wiped only for the saving grace that is a truly proportional electoral system. Predictably, it will all be dismissed, and the Lib Dems will accept it and carry on.
  3. David Cameron will finally conduct a proper reshuffle, though it still won’t be particularly far reaching. Osborne isn’t going anywhere and neither is Michael Gove. Lansley may be moved if the NHS reforms pass successfully to give someone else a chance. He will definitely be removed if they fail. The Lib Dems have such a paucity of front bench talent that there is very little room for manouevre… but maybe Nick Clegg will at least get a real portfolio at last, now the “political reform” agenda has vanished.
  4. Ed Miliband will remain Labour leader, in spite of generally underwhelming election results and another defeat to Boris in the London mayoral election.
  5. In Europe, the Euro crisis will be resolved with a “treaty”. The treaty will not get the UK’s blessing, and the EU will proceed into a closer union without the UK, creating overwhelming calls for an in-out referendum. If it starts looking tempting, expect Labour to back the idea.
  6. France will get a “Socialist” President as Sarkozy plunges to inevitable defeat.
  7. Rick Santorum will win the Iowa caucuses, but Mitt Romney will be the Republicans nominee for President.
  8. Barack Obama will squeak a narrow re-election against Mitt Romney.
  9. The Democrats will either lose control of the Senate or it will be an exact 50-50 tie, with Joe Biden, VP, suddenly finding a reason to exist. The Democrats will not re-take the House, but it will be close. This disastrous deadlock will result in two more years of pathetic governance in the States.
  10. Syria will continue to make a mockery of the West – and the uprising will eventually be brutally suppressed. Meanwhile, the rest of the Arab Spring becomes stillborn, and the tendency towards strong, authoritarian governments in the region will persist.
  11. Iran will successfully navigate the year without there being any progress on disarmament, and there will be no military activity of any sort. However, the West will begin sounding the war-drums, and the useless public will buy it.
  12. And all the while the schizophrenic public will continue to ignore the fact that Afghanistan has been, and will continue to be, a catastrophic failure. More lives will continue to be lost, though Obama will, mercifully, confirm a long, slow, drawdown over the next few years.

And the usual bonus prediction… Manchester City will win this year’s Premier League.

See you at the end of the year!


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11 For 2011

Posted by The Futility Monster on January 2, 2011 @ 11:11

OK, so it’s hardly the return of the Futility Monster, here, but two posts in two days does mark something of a minor miracle. Even so, it’s unlikely to be repeated. Maybe I will try and write something at least semi-frequently. Maybe once a month or something.

But for now, more to get it down in writing than anything else, here comes my top 11 predictions for 2011.

  1. The AV referendum will pass. Call me a hopeless optimist, but I believe Ed Miliband will drag the Labour Party, kicking and screaming, behind the campaign as a show of his authority and capacity for “change”. This will encourage the Lib Dems to give it their full support. It will scrape home. Just.
  2. The “Other” 2011 referendum – in Wales – will also succeed, but with a larger majority in favour.
  3. Following that, Welsh Labour will win. But perhaps not as big as they will hope. I predict an extremely close finish, with them just falling below the magic 31 seats for outright majority control.
  4. The Scottish Nationalists will lose power in Scotland’s May general election, but they will only be replaced by an enfeebled Labour minority, who may struggle to find partners to get its legislation and budgets through.
  5. Meanwhile, in London, the Coalition will last the whole year, without too many hiccups, despite sluggish economic data.
  6. Somewhere during the year, the Liberal Democrats will hit another low in their post-2010 election opinion poll woes.
  7. In the post-May reshuffle, Nick Clegg will receive a real portfolio in a bid by David Cameron to shore up support for the coalition amongst demoralised Liberal Democrat MPs. Home Office, anyone?
  8. Also to boost the Lib Dems, House of Lords reform (defined here as anything 80% or more elected), will pass the Commons, but die a sad death in the Lords itself.
  9. Looking abroad, Silvio Berlusconi will finally reach the end of his woeful Prime Ministerial career. Having said that, his replacement will hardly be any better.
  10. Barack Obama will have a traumatic year: under fire from the hostile House of Representatives, a ceaseless war in Afghanistan, and unable to achieve anything of great significance. This will seriously damage him running into the pivotal 2012. And if that happens, expect Sarah Palin to run for the Presidency. Whether she gets the nomination, however, will have to wait till next year’s prediction…
  11. Finally, North Korea will come back to the negotiating table at long last. But will a deal be reached? Extraordinarily unlikely. Unless Kim Jong Il croaks it, and his son is, to everyone’s shock, slightly less of a lunatic than his father…

As for who wins this year’s Premier League, alas, it’ll be no one other than Manchester United.

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Some Good News In The Darkness

Posted by The Futility Monster on June 15, 2010 @ 09:28

We love databases cos they do all good stuff like this!

In the past I’ve strongly challenged the idea that what this country needs to protect its children is a bloody great database constantly monitoring the activities of nearly one-quarter of the adult population on it.

So today’s announcement that the Independent Safeguarding Authority’s Vetting and Barring Scheme is to be suspended pending a very rigorous investigation is to be welcomed.

So far this government has been reasonably true to its word of looking carefully at ways to roll back the frontiers of the infant police state that Labour were building. A state based around databases and vast swathes of information about its subjects, all built to make them sound good and thoroughly decent, but with no safeguards as to where they could head, and with little concept of how damaging they are to our civil liberties.

I understand that there is actually some relief within the civil service at this announcement, primarily because the Independent Safeguarding Authority (ISA) was not going to be ready for its July start date. This news will mean no need for embarrassing admissions about yet another bureaucratic failure.

But there’s still some way to go before proper celebration. We don’t yet know the full extent of the “Great Repeal Bill” promised by Clegg and Cameron. The ISA and its associated legislation would have to be included in such a repeal bill if it were to be shelved altogether. Indeed, as I pointed out in one of the posts linked to earlier, there was no need for the ISA in the first place, given the fact that the CRB could easily have done the job.

All it takes is a little imaginative thinking in government. I dearly hope this review gives them enough time to think properly about what is actually needed for the safety of children and vulnerable adults. What risks are we prepared to accept in society?

Sadly, yes, anyone with close, and frequently isolated, contact with children must be checked out. This does include the voluntary sector too. But how much further beyond that do we need to go? Do we really need, as I have seen in job adverts, chefs working for a major English professional football club being CRB checked because they might also be cooking food for the youth teams?

The coalition keeps moving in the right direction with this kind of stuff, and so it fills me with some confidence that we may finally be seeing the limits of state intrusion.

The scores on the doors: ContactPoint child database: to be scrapped. Identity cards, and the national identity database, to be scrapped. ISA bureaucratic, intrusive nightmare: on the abyss. Great Repeal Bill? Jury’s still out on that one…

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Whither Question Time?

Posted by The Futility Monster on May 28, 2010 @ 12:08

I wonder how many more years our David has left in him...

In the latest in my Bill Withers instalments, today I turn my attention to that venerable institution, BBC One’s Question Time.

I’m not particularly interested in whether the coalition refuses to debate alongside Alistair Campbell, for the simple reason that the answer is obvious: the BBC is right, and the coalition are extremely stupid to think they can dictate the terms of engagement. If it is true that David Laws refused to appear because of Campbell, then I’m embarrassed for my government.

But the real reason that made me want to write this post is that something is seriously amiss about the programme in these days of coalition.

I enjoyed last night’s show because of the interplay between Campbell, Piers Morgan and Max Hastings. They had a great deal of banter, and some fantastical allegations were launched at each other. A real dogfight. Campbell and Morgan on the Iraq War also made for good television.

Meanwhile, John Redwood and Susan Kramer, for the Conservatives and the Lib Dems, had a love-in.

That’s not right. Not right at all.

Throughout the programme, it was hard to differentiate between the two. They were both extremely loyal, and you could barely slide a cigarette paper between their answers.

Who’d’ve thought that, eh? One of the Conservatives most uppity backbenchers, combining forces with someone who isn’t even an MP any more, and therefore is free of the party whip. And they agreed with each other continuously.

I know the coalition is in early days, and power is the glue holding everyone together, but it seems right now it’s hard to get an independent thought out of anyone. Unfortunately, turning everyone into robotic drones parroting the party line is not remotely “new politics”. It’s the same old New Labour spin machine, prepped with pre-packaged soundbites and talking points, only now expanded across two parties.

I quipped to one of my friends the other day that I guess I must have missed the party merger…

Question Time is going to have to decide. If the Tory and Lib Dem representatives are going to continue having a love-in, neither wanting to say something different because they could jeopardise the coalition, then there is no point having both of them on there. That would then reduce the panel to four. No doubt they could then squeeze on an extra celebrity. They seem to love doing that these days.

People may pretend they want their politicians to agree (just so long as those pols agree with what “the people” apparently think), but agreement makes for a boring 60 minutes of television.

During this government, which will be the most centrist in British history, it’s going to be important for Question Time, and other political TV/radio shows, to highlight that other opinions really do exist, and are just as legitimate as the hegemonic Lib-Con coalition.

Otherwise, people might resume wondering whether politics is worth bothering with…

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And So It Begins… Again

Posted by The Futility Monster on May 25, 2010 @ 10:40

Spend it! Spend it like there's no tomorrow!

Today’s Queen’s Speech will give us a much better idea than the coalition document about what the government thinks are the urgent priorities for the nation. The coalition document is a framework for the next five years, but it doesn’t tell us anything about the order of those ideas…

After all, how many times have we seen manifesto plans eventually put on the back burner because they’re too controversial? What if, for example, the Higher Education Review suggests scrapping the top-up fee limit altogether? That would be too much for the Lib Dems to take; and the grassroots would put enormous pressure on the party to do more than merely abstain, as the coalition document says they will.

Events, dear boy. Events.

Many commentators observe that so much emphasis is placed on the legislative programme that it is, in fact, disproportionate to the amount of importance it has.

I disagree with that.

Lots of government activity takes place by ministerial fiat or by statutory instrument. In all honesty, most of this kind of governance takes place regardless of whoever is in power. Minor decisions, and extremely technical ones, are invariably in the hands of the civil service. Ministers didn’t come into politics to piss around with these tedious regulations, and they mostly pass by without comment.

The big changes to this country, on the other hand, can only happen by legislation.

And today we get to see which bits of legislation this government has decided are so important that they must take place this session.

And it’s a long one. Parliamentary sessions usually begin in November. In recent years, they’ve even started in December. This one, however, is starting in May, and won’t end for around 16 months. Plenty of time then to ram through their pet issues.

This is when a new government is at its most potent. Its political capital account is stacked full to the brim. This one especially, being the only government in generations to be able to claim to have more than 50% of the population supporting it. That’s an impressive mandate.

And now is the time to spend it. Never again will the public be so supportive. Never again will party discipline be so tight. Never again will the levers of power be so available to Cameron and Clegg to get their way. It really is downhill all the way from here.

Today we will see just how bold this coalition is going to be.

Unfortunately for me, I’m going to be stuck on a train. Let me know if they’ve got the balls afterwards, won’t you?

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The Jury Is Still Out

Posted by The Futility Monster on May 20, 2010 @ 07:28

The bromance continues...

Coming from a very Labour family, one that suffered serious hardship under the Thatcher era, being a Lib Dem black sheep is not easy.

Since the rise of the Tories to power, buttressed by a Lib Dem flank that couldn’t wait to get its hands on the tiller, I have been questioned on a regular basis by Labour people on “what d’ya think of that, then?!” – in that sneering way that only Labour people do best.

The problem to me was that most Labour members always assumed the Lib Dems would fall into bed with them in their hour of need. It is this rejection, combined with propping up Teh Evul Tories!!!!1 that has caused them such pain. Sadly for them, just like everything to do with Labour, their party leadership has not reflected their values for more than a decade.

What amuses me most about it is every time a new Tory minister, or David Cameron, says or does something, I am quizzed as if I am guilty of a crime. How dare you put them in power? They’re going to shit on the poor all over again, etc, etc.

I would like to dismiss these concerns as the usual partisan baiting. After all, as I wrote a few days ago, this could be Labour’s best opportunity since the death of John Smith. And yes, it’s callous to write that, but given it led to Tony Blair, three huge election wins and 13 years of power, it has to be true…

But a little bit of me is with them. A little bit of me dies inside when I see William Hague, handsomely rejected in 2001 for being so out of touch with the electorate, preening on the world stage with Hilary Clinton, embarrassing us all by talking about a non-existent “special relationship”.

My approach to the coalition is this. I am not at all apologetic for what my party has done. I share some of the concerns ably expressed by Rob Fenwick and Nich Starling. This coalition is going to put the Liberal Democrats under the most extreme stress. It might well be the end of the party. It might lead to it splitting back in two, especially if a form of PR is ever agreed upon.

But I’m not prepared to turn my back on the party. Not yet. It would have been easy to stick it out in opposition once more. That’s where we’re comfortable. We don’t deserve power, but neither should we refuse to take what may be the only opportunity in our party’s history to implement at least some of our policies because we’re afraid of the bogeymen that still lurk in the Tory cupboards from the Thatcher era.

The alternative? Labour did not want a coalition. The Tories could have governed on their own, but in return we would have extracted almost nothing, and worse, faced another election in a year’s time, when Labour are likely to be unprepared for an election, and a Tory landslide could ensue.

Don’t tell me that wouldn’t be worse for the country.

So when people ask me what I think of what’s happening in British politics, and whether I’m comfortable with what’s happening, I simply say: “I really don’t know yet”.

And none of us do. It’s way, way too early to guess what the outcome of this coalition will be. Nothing has really happened yet. When legislation starts, and we truly get a handle on the way Tory and LD Secretaries of State are going to govern, that’s when the evidence will roll in. Until then, we lie in wait like wolves. Waiting. Interminably waiting.

I freely admit though. If it’s a disaster, I will live forever with the shame.

But a part of me thinks it genuinely can work.

And that’s worth fighting for.

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Labour’s Opportunity

Posted by The Futility Monster on May 17, 2010 @ 10:38

Maybe the real wave of change hasn't hit us yet...

What is so fascinating about the current “new politics” of coalition government is the fact that, for the first time in decades, there is truly only one opposition party.

For the next five years – if that is to be the way things proceed – the Lib/Con coalition will be tarred with the same brush. I was hoping to avoid the marriage metaphor, because it’s so horribly clichéd, but this fact is simple: nothing expresses the way the two party’s fortunes will play out than the following phrase.

For better, for worse; for richer, for poorer.

If the Lib/Con coalition works, and there are a couple of turbulent years followed by definite steps towards a transformed economy and budget outlook, both parties will get their reward.

But if they don’t, and Labour pick the right leader, the possibilities are almost limitless.

Imagine, if in a year’s time, the Coalition’s emergency budget, combined with continuing European turmoil, causes unemployment to skyrocket. 3.5m? 4m? VAT has been increased to 20%, and there is talk of another round of serious public spending cuts to stop the rot.

Meanwhile, Labour are leading the charge, unhindered by a second opposition party, solely the ones able to reflect a growing anger within the British public that the coalition is not delivering. Ed Miliband, accompanied at every turn by Jon Cruddas, leading an ever more populist campaign against the ConDem cuts that have, once again, led to a mantra that unemployment is a price worth paying for keeping inflation down.

In those circumstances, the public would quickly tire of exhortations from Gideon Osborne that we need to sacrifice more to put the Great back into Britain. Tolerance of him is already wafer-thin; for now he will get a fair crack of the whip, but if his initial efforts don’t succeed, Labour will be able to say that the same old Tories just don’t care what their pathological and ideological love for shrinking the public sector does to the people of this country.

And worse, the Lib Dems will have guilt by association. They cannot just step out of this arrangement when it suits them. That would be so Lib Demmy, after all. Indeed, with David Laws in the Treasury, who is somewhat hawkish about the economy anyway, there will be no place to hide.

As a Lib Dem member, I recognise that this coalition was probably our only option when it became clear that Labour were ready to go into opposition. But I am truly fearful for the future of our party. There will be a generation of Labour voters that we will never rescue. Labour sympathisers in Generation X, who lived through the worst of Thatcherism, will never vote for us again. That is already a win for Labour.

But they will also be able to cash in on every generation after that and beyond if this Lib/Con thing doesn’t work out.

Maybe that progressive realignment of the centre-left so dreamed about for decades by the Liberal Democrats is going to happen after all.

Without them.

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Five Years Is Too Long

Posted by The Futility Monster on May 14, 2010 @ 12:14

Maybe this parliament won't even live to see five years anyway...

“That’s all we’ve got, we’ve got five years…”
– David Bowie

Parliaments that last five years invariably end in disaster. Look at recent precedent:

1992 – John Major squeaks home with a 20 majority that could so easily have been a hung parliament.

1997 – John Major ends a disastrous term, battered from crisis to crisis, buffeted by events, ending in a Labour landslide.

2010 – Gordon Brown fails to seize the early initiative, “goes long”, and sees Labour suffer a 5.6% swing against his party in England and Wales, bringing an end to 13 years of Labour rule.

2015 – ?

The argument is that we need a five year term because it gives “stability” for the long term. Except five years isn’t the long term. Let’s face facts, politics is not about the long term. It’s about the short and medium term. Lib Dems want five years because they know it might take that long to reverse the reputational damage suffered in Lib/Lab marginals. It’s also enough time that something good at least might come from it.

The Tories too like the idea of five years because it guarantees the levers of power for that long. No worries about economic catastrophe caused by savage cuts, and an uprising in the Labour Party led by a wonderful new leader, consolidated by leftie Lib Dem defections. Because a mere 2.5% swing to Labour on current boundaries would put Labour strongly back in the driving seat.

But five years is too long.

Maybe we can make an exceptional case that, just this once, five years might be needed to ride out the economic misery ahead. And then after that we lean back towards four years ago. After all, Scotland, Wales and NI have fixed term parliaments. Four years works for them. Four years works for most democracies. Australia go with three, and the House of Representatives gets just two!

Only, if the Lib-Con coalition is to be believed, we’ll never have four year elections again.

I wrote a load of old rubbish last September about how the legitimacy of a parliament declines over time. Of course, my formula was gerrymandered to fit how short I think a parliament should be, but the underlying idea that people get restless as time goes by is sound.

I just think five years is too long to ask people to wait to cast their verdict on what’s happened, and what’s to come. Democracy needs to be more reactive to the people if we are to encourage the next generation that politics is worth doing.

Nobody’s listening, however.

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Whither Collective Responsibility?

Posted by The Futility Monster on May 13, 2010 @ 17:54

It has no relevance, but I utterly love it. Death Is Freedom! Freedom Is Death!

I just know my former academic Overlords would love that title.

One of the most interesting things in the coalition agreement is the points where it is very specifically noted that the two parties plan on agreeing to disagree.

Chris Huhne brought up one of these issues today, and if he hadn’t already, this post would have been very different. I was originally going to ask what kind of twisted logic would allow him to justify the fact that Lib Dem policy is very publicly going to be over-ridden. His excuse: there will be no public subsidy.

Purists will still wince.

The idea, according to the Coalition document, that “a Liberal Democrat spokesman will speak against the planning statement” while his Prime Minister will be calling for the vast expansion of the nuclear industry seems unusual at best. The idea of collective responsibility is that if you disagree, and want to do so publicly, you have to resign.

Not any more! The change is going to take a little getting used to; perhaps it’s a positive development as it acknowledges politicians are people too. It might even make them look a bit more like normal people, not just droids reciting the same script.

But there’s still one bit that puzzles me. In some ways, I don’t really know why the Liberal Democrats were given the department for Energy and Climate Change when everyone knows this particular battle is coming down the track. I’m starting to think it’s been designed to cause the party maximum embarrassment. Surely Nick Clegg didn’t collude to put Chris Huhne in a terribly awkward position? And surely the notion that the government’s Deputy Prime Minister could well abstain against his own government’s plan without resigning is absurd?

But that’s what’s very likely to happen.

That is, unless, the Lib Dems are planning on reversing their long and principled opposition to new nuclear power…

You know, this year, the Liberal Democrats replaced their paper membership cards with very thin plastic ones. I suspect the idea was to make it impossible to tear them up in a fit of rage. Now you have to actually search for the scissors, and that might just give you enough time to think twice about what you’re doing.

But if the party dares to change its position on nuclear power, I know I might try and see if I can rip it up anyway.

That would be most satisfying.

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The Coalition Document: Who Won?

Posted by The Futility Monster on May 12, 2010 @ 16:37

The coalition document has just been released. Apparently, though, it’s not the big one. A full document, covering even more areas, is going to be published “in due course”.

But now seems as good a time as any to decide just who got the lion’s share of the wins throughout this early version. Off we go…

Deficit reduction

This section, regarding emergency budgets, an “accelerated” reduction plan, early cuts, etc. might as well be a cut and paste from the Tory manifesto. Though the Lib Dems shared some of the ideas, and have ameliorated the worst excesses of the “early cuts” that have now been nailed on, it is definitely a CONSERVATIVE WIN.

Spending review

Both parties were agreed that a Comprehensive Spending Review is necessary. But then again, Labour would have done exactly the same.

Where the change appears is that the Lib Dems had not promised real terms rises for the NHS. The Tories did. That got into the document. Counterbalancing this appears to be the Lib Dems “pupil premium” idea. That made it through.

Other spending reviews are also set in stone. I believe both the Tories and the LDs supported this. Trident, however, is going nowhere, and public sector pensions are to be scrutinised closely. That last one was one of Vince Cable’s favourites, repeated over the past 5 years at least.

It’s a score draw in this section.

Tax measures

The LD £10k personal allowance aspiration has a pathway in the document. The killing of inheritance tax threshold rising and a delay on the married couples’ allowance is also a LD win. So too is the measures on tax avoidance, and a switch to per plane, rather than per passenger, on aviation duty. This is a clear LD WIN.

Banking reform

Both the LDs and the Tories majored heavily on banker bonus bashing during this election, and it features strongly here. The LD idea of splitting the banks into retail and investment arms gets a token “independent commission” thrown at it, but that won’t come to anything. The Tories successfully got in their plans to basically just give everything to the Bank of England is not particularly exciting, but it’s still a very slight CONSERVATIVE WIN.


No doubt about it. LD policy nowhere to be seen. Annual limits on the way. Total nonsense, of course. Total CONSERVATIVE WIN

Political reform

That this features at all is immediately a sign of a clear LD WIN. Though the fixed term parliament provision is way too long, the rest of it is stunning. Tories supporting referendums on electoral reform. A wholly elected House of Lords, by PR, is also an impressive victory considering the Tories were starting to back away from their years of supporting Lords reform. We might still get shafted by yet another “commission” that is going to report on this issue.

There are a couple of Tory successes here, but their tinkerings were so minor that they are nothing to the major reforms the Liberal Democrats look like they’re going to push hard for. So LD WIN it is.

Pensions and welfare

Lib Dems wanted to phase out the compulsory retirement age altogether, and that seems to have won the day. Tory state pension age increase is in there though. In truth, this is not an area I’m absolutely sure about regarding the two parties. It all looks very amicable though. Score draw?


Schools – clear Tory win. “Free schools” on the way, whatever they are. Yes, there is to be the Lib Dem pupil premium, but the money has to be raised from cuts elsewhere, which suggests the premium won’t be anywhere near as big as it should be.

Higher education – kicked into the long grass pending a review. Tuition fees definitely here to stay. LDs have arranged an abstention if they can’t get what they want. And they won’t. It all adds up to a CONSERVATIVE WIN.

Relations with the EU

Conservatives: Winning Here. The rhetoric is nationalist, the terms of engagement so obviously written by William Hague. LDs have gone along with it though perhaps knowing that, in truth, the Tories can’t actually do anything about the present arrangements. It’s a CONSERVATIVE WIN but it’s one that doesn’t really matter.

Civil liberties

The “Freedom Bill” was always a LD idea. In fact, it was one of Nick Clegg’s when he was Home Affairs spokesman. There’s lots of solid pro-civil liberties stuff here. There is a strong civil libertarian aspect in the Tories thanks to the influence of David Davis and Dominic Grieve, so in truth the LDs can’t claim a victory here. Whether it survives the crushing machinery of government, which very much likes it surveillance, thank you very much, is another matter. I should call this a score draw, but the LDs have to take the credit for keeping all this stuff on the agenda in spite of 10 years of being constantly on the backfoot about it. A LD WIN. Just.


The most detailed section of the document. But it’s so easy to say you’re green. Putting any of this into practice will require serious balls in the face of business opposition. There’s genuinely a radical agenda here, from denying the third runway at Heathrow, to the end of coal-fire power unless Carbon Capture and Storage gets proven to be useful. It’s a combination of the best green initiatives from both manifestos, and so it should be a score draw.

Should. The Tories have won through on the idea of nuclear power, but hopefully it will meet serious internal opposition. Zac Goldsmith might lead the charge against it. At least, he should if past form is anything to go by. LDs have another opt-out to abstain, though some will defy their whip. It could make a very interesting parliamentary battle. Not necessarily in the Tories favour this one. Perhaps they should have kicked it into a “review” as well.

With that in mind, and because the Conservatives were such Johnny-come-latelys to the green agenda, I’m giving this a squeakily narrow LD WIN.


Of course, totting up the overall wins has little merit. Some sections are clearly worth more than others. But I’m going to do it anyway.

Counting the score draws as “1-1” it comes out as CONSERVATIVES 7 – 6 LIBERAL DEMOCRATS

You could come up with a clever system of weightings, but it then still depends on what weight you give to each thing. So I won’t bother.

On balance, I’ve got to say I’m fairly pleased with the agreement, especially considering the relative strength of the parties. There is a significant chunk of LD policy in it, and some of the Tory Win is not really all that important anyway. But still, if it keeps Bill Cash quiet…

That’s not to say I’m happy with the Cabinet. But maybe I’ll be more happy when the full list of ministers is revealed.

More tomorrow…

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