Tuesday, 27 July 2010

Party policy verse coalition agreement

Mondays Newsnight coalition special highlighted a problem for me with understanding the difference for the public of coalition policy and party policy.
One young lady said she would not vote Liberal Democrat again because of the Vince Cables proposed graduate tax. Firstly I got the impression that she thought this was going to happen when it is one idea to be discussed. Secondly the Liberal Democrats have not dropped their policy on scrapping tuition fees. If the Liberal Democrats were in power on their own I have no doubt that within the 4 or 5 years of government they would scrap fees by the end of the term or when affordable.
I also wondered if she understood that this is a progressive tax and would mean no more tuition fees and not an additional expense. Maybe the word taxation scared her off the idea. I guess this has not been explained to the public.
I thought Liberal Democrat MP for Burnley Gordon Birtwistle could of done a much better job explaining the differences between the two parties and explaining Liberal Democrat policy. It seems some MP's need a bit of coaching on how to explain coalition verse party policy.
The problem is that people don't always understand that both the Liberal Democrats and the Conservatives still have these policies, its just that they can't introduce them into a coalition.
I think both parties need to make it clear during the conferences and during other campaigns that they both still have their distinctive policies.


  1. The LibDems have to pay for getting into bed with the Tories and propping up this government. The finer policy differences are lost on most people, we just see the LibDems broadly supporting Tory policies.

    The price of this shared power is the lingering smell of opportunism and a tarnishing of the LibDems' liberal image.

  2. I think what Richard said is the prevailing view on this, from what I gather.

    There has been too much focus on emphasising the strength of the coalition. It is natural enough, given their rarity in these parts and how frail they have proved to be historically. But the desire to show solidarity seems to have led to it being active policy to play down differences for fear of rocking the boat.

    I think this has alienated a lot of people - and my hope is that as things continue to settle down, things will normalise. Id like to see more disagreement between the parties - if only so I could trust they are being honest about what they believe.

    It is healthy that we are seeing a lot of compromise and cooperation in government - to me it does genuinely seem a more mature approach to politics - but that does not mean everyone has to slavishly tow the line about everything all the time. Some transparency about the different views, and how a compromise was reached, would give a clearer view of the distinct characters of the two parties in power.

  3. It makes sence to me Druid, but many like Richard dont appear to get it. Fact is we could not of had a minority Conservative government or if we had there would of been a re election in a year after doing nothing when there may of been yet another hung parliment. Personally I like working with other parties.

  4. Dazmando - I think I do "get it". You may see the LibDems part in the coalition as a noble attempt to do the best thing for the country and to try to soften some of the more extreme Tory policies.

    Others may see it as a betrayal of your principles in order to achieve some short-term visibility and a referendum on an alternative voting system.

    There is a distinct possibility that this coalition will blow up in the LibDems face leaving them with less credibility and fewer supporters than they had before... but the possible prize of a fairer (more proportional) voting system may well be worth that risk.